Last updated: September 12, 2019
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Women With Disabilities Australia
(WWDA) (2017) ‘What is the Impact of Disability on Gender?’, Available at:
(Accessed: 18/12/2017).

Wilkinson R., Marmot M. (2003).
Social Determinants of Health: the Solid Facts, 2nd Edn. Copenhagen: World
Health Organization.

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order now (2017) What Is Social
Inequality in Sociology? – Definition, Effects & Causes, Available at:
(Accessed: 18/12/2017).

Other Sociologist (2017) Sociology
of Gender, Available at:
(Accessed: 18/12/2017).

 Mental Health Foundation (2017) What is
wellbeing, how can we measure it and how can we support people to improve it?,
Available at:
(Accessed: 10/12/2017

Heshmat. S. Ph.D. (2018) Basics of
Identity , Available at:
(Accessed: 12th December 2017).

Haig. M (2015) Reasons to Stay Alive. Edinburgh: Canongate Books Ltd.

Giddens, A.  (1997) Sociology. Polity Press.

BBC News (2018) Disabled people
‘left behind in society’, report finds, Available at: (Accessed: 14th December 2017).

Clifford O’Brien, J and Solomon,
J.W (2013) ‘Occupational Analysis and Group Process’, Activity Analysis, pp. 22
Online. Available at:,+activity+and+task+focused+analysis=bl=f10uP2UZJg=bLpS5nBdcNlXyrVmGccQRfA2iNs=en=X=0ahUKEwig8tyD1vPXAhVQFMAKHazIDhsQ6AEIQTAD#v=onepage=relationship%20between%20occupation%2C%20activity%20and%20task%20focused%20analysis=false
(Accessed: 10/12/2017).

















To conclude, I feel like the sociological
concept of social class and inequalities has a massive impact on disabled people’s
lives in society today. I mainly feel that this is due to the fact that acknowledgement
of disability is absent, and this is clear through our education system as it continues
to relegate the subject of disability by sustaining two isolated tiers – one
for disabled pupils and another one for everyone else. The disabled or
non-abled bodies are not disabled because of their physical or mental
impairment but because society is constructed in a way that does not fully provide
for their needs. Overall, I it is disgraceful and shocking that disabled people
are still facing this level of inequality in their day to day lives.


Sociological concepts are relevant
to occupational therapy in many ways. For example, if a service user has a low
socioeconomic status, this could be a huge threat to their homemaker position and
assuming that the therapist is more than likely middle income, there turns out
to be a larger necessity for social empathy, understanding, compassion and awareness.
Reassessing the intervention that is constructed on a set understanding of who the
patient is, the occupational therapist might wonder if this intervention is going
to be a success. Therefore, it is important for occupational therapists to know
their own social position in relation to their clients. It is by having this level
of understanding for this relationship that we can generate situations for allowing
and empowering people, communities and society to participate in meaningful
occupations that encourage participation and promote health and wellbeing.
Furthermore, for occupational therapists, it is central to be able to comprehend
the relationship between social class and health and how this forms
opportunities to take part in and benefit from occupational therapy facilities.
Social inequalities are very concerning to health professionals such as
occupational therapists as they can put people in danger of a poorer health. As
occupational therapists consider the settings and environments of their clients
daily, it is crucial to think about how societal tendencies shaping the patient
population and socioeconomic resources can be used to improve and develop occupational
performance. Occupational therapists can therefore use all this understanding to
improve disabled people’s daily experiences.

Relevance to Occupational Therapy

I feel that material disadvantage
has consequences for the health of disabled people, although it is inequality
that has the utmost effect on the health of disabled people. Feeling appreciated,
independent and respected in society and having admission to social support are
essential to societal positions and these are very significant components in
health and wellbeing results which many disabled people do not have or do not
have access to. In a BBC news report article titled, Disabled people ‘left
behind in society’, is an example of how disabled people are not treated
equally compared to abled bodied people in society. They reported that there
are six main areas in which disabled people in Britain are less equal, this
includes: “education, work, standard of living, health and care, justice and
detention, and participation and identity.” This therefore highlights that
there is a very wide disability pay gap in society and also a deteriorating
access to justice and fairness.

Examples from Personal Experience/ Media

There are a lot of inequalities
towards men with mental health issues compared to women with mental health
issues due to masculinity norms and stigma which may encourage the suppression
of emotions. This is certainly the case with Matt Haig as he is a male, thus
people expect him to get on with things in his daily life and expect him not to
be weak. Depression and anxiety are two of the main mental illnesses that cause
psychological distress which have a massive effect on men. Pressures created by
their various roles and also gender discrimination combine to account for men’s
poor mental health.

Examples from the Autobiographical Narrative

According to Other Sociologist, “The
sociology of gender examines how society influences our understandings and
perception of differences between masculinity and femininity”. Therefore, this
shows us that gender is socially constructed. We learn how to act in a sociable
acceptable way through “school, religious or cultural teachings, in the media,
and various other social institutions.” This can impact on certain inequalities
and the social class of disabled individuals as all people with disabilities
are at risk of being deprived due to their gender. This is due to the fact that
a lot of disabled people are denied opportunities to fulfill significant
occupations. According to Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA), “This
increases the vulnerability of women with disabilities as they are not seen to
have the same issues as all women and they often lack vital information about
their rights”. Therefore, this demonstrates that there can be inequalities
associated with gender.

Understanding of the Sociological Concept

Sociology is bursting with a wide
range of topics that cover different sociological concepts. Examples of
sociological concepts include norms, values, culture, gender and ethnicity. However,
the main sociological concepts that I am going to focus on are inequalities and
social class. describes social inequality as “the existence of unequal
opportunities and rewards for different social positions or statuses within a
group or society”. Social class and inequalities can have a massive impact on a
disabled persons life for a number of reasons, the first of which being
prejudice towards the disabled community – a person with a disability can be
viewed as inferior or unusual due to their condition and treated poorly in
everyday life, education or work.  A
disabled individual of a lower socio-economic class can also be victimized by
huge government cuts on budgets for disabled people in this country, meaning the
services are less easily accessible and of a poorer quality. Therefore, I feel
that social class is a strong social determining factor of health and why
different classes have various levels of access to treatment.

Definition Sociological Concept

In this essay I am going to discuss
and reflect on inequalities and how social class can impact on disabled
people’s day to day experiences through sociological concepts such as norms,
values, culture, gender ethnicity, although the main sociological concepts I am
going to focus on are inequalities and social class. I will also discuss the
relevance of these findings to occupational therapy.

Part two: Introduction
















To conclude I feel that the social
role of norms and stigma have had an impact on Matt Haig’s occupations and his
wellbeing through various ways by making him feel as if he had failed. I feel
that societies views are changing but not rapidly enough and this is why stigma
still plays a massive role on mental health today. The advice Matt Haig gives
is to “Ignore stigma”. (Matt Haig 2015 pg. 112) This is massively important in
lifting the social stigma and the norms associated to mental health as life is
always worth it.


A significant life event that
happened which illustrates societal stigma is when Matt Haig’s friend said to
Andrea, “Why don’t you stay here? Matt would be okay. He looks fine.” (Matt
Haig 2015 pg. 32) This demonstrates the lack of insight and awareness into
mental health illnesses through the assumption that without clear visual cues Matt
must not be suffering from a serious condition. This therefore has an impact on
his occupation as people expect him to be able to carry out straightforward
tasks like staying at home by himself because he looks ‘fine’, whereas he is
unable to do this as he is ill. This would also have an impact on his wellbeing
as others do not understand mental illnesses and therefore dismiss the fact that
he is suffering.

Life Event Illustrating the Impact of
the Sociological Concept

(Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. 2014) describes
an identity as something that “relates to our basic values that dictate the
choices we make. These choices reflect who we are and what we value.”
Depression can become your identity, and this can have an effect on your
cognitive and intellectual capabilities, such as thinking, concentrating,
understanding, learning and decision making which can be very frustrating for
individuals. Occupational therapists can support and assist service users by
helping them to redefine their identity.  As Matt Haig suffered from anxiety, he got to
the point where he was unable to walk the short distance to the local corner
shop alone. This type of anxiety is known as agoraphobia. This impacted on Matt
Haig’s wellbeing and occupation as he was now unable to leave the house and
carry out this task without having a panic attack. This therefore made him feel
weak which defied his masculinity which is not a societal norm as males are
expected to be physically and mentally strong. (Matt Haig 2015, p.38) described
himself as a “failure”. Therefore, showing the impact this had on his wellbeing
as he felt he could do nothing right. Another societal norm is that the man
should be the provider for the family. However, this was not the case for Matt
Haig as he depended on his partner Andrea a lot mentally, physically and
financially. “Love saved me. Andrea. She saved me.” Matt Haig (2015 pg. 119)
also says that “She earned us money”. This impacted on Matt Haig’s occupation
as he was unable to hold down a job due to his mental illness. This therefore
affected his wellbeing as he felt weak and prevented him to grow as a person and
also as he felt like he was relying too much on Andrea which is not the done
thing in our society. Again, this is relevant to occupational therapy as their
role of preventing the loss of engagement in meaningful occupations can greatly
improve and enhance a person’s overall health and wellbeing as well as helping individuals
to live life to the fullest.

Overview of Matt Haig’s Life Experience and Living with Impairments

Regarding Matt Haig there are a lot
of social norms and stigma associated with the topic of mental health,
especially in relation to males. Some prejudicial assumptions are shared worldwide
about mental illness. Dominant masculine gender norms for example, ‘boys aren’t
supposed to cry’, creates a self-stigmatisation in men who are depressed as
they feel that they should be able to cope with the illness by not outwardly expressing
their emotions or without seeking help, professional or not. Matt Haig (2015 p.
71) explained how he couldn’t tell his girlfriend “how bad he was feeling.”
This impacted on his wellbeing as he felt he couldn’t let his emotions or
feelings out in case they were perceived in a bad way even to the person who he
valued most, his girlfriend Andrea. He then goes on to say “I started to cry.
In public.” The use of short sentences emphasises that this is not a ‘normal’
thing for a grown man to do especially not in public. This is because of the
norms and stigma associated with gender and people in society just assume that
men should feel strong all the time, be responsible, independent, tough and brave
and believe that crying is out of the question. But this isn’t always the case
and this can really affect people’s occupation and wellbeing as they don’t do
the things they enjoy and also feel like they aren’t good enough.  As occupational therapists I feel that by understanding
stigma, this can develop and improve practice in a number of ways. Firstly, it
supports and encourages individual patient care, it prompts occupational
therapists to examine and think about their own values and beliefs. Occupational
therapy addresses self-efficacy by producing opportunities for expertise and encouraging
support in public places along with individual interpersonal relationships.

Understanding of the Sociological Concept

A norm is an informal guide as to
how people are expected to behave. Each society has different norms and
develops its own rules for behaviour. Therefore, a “norm either prescribes a
given type of behaviour or forbids it” (Giddens, 1997). Stigma is when a lot of
people in society have a strong feeling of dislike and dissatisfaction towards
something and it usually has a negative connotation towards it, such as a specific
disease or a group of people. Norms and stigma that are associated with mental
health illnesses can be damaging to accessing general health and also mental
health care. It is important for occupational therapists to have an
understanding of this, so they can be aware of the outcomes such as social
exclusion and isolation in order to help.   

Definition of sociological concept 

The book I am going to discuss is Reasons
to Stay Alive by Matt Haig and how his occupations and his wellbeing has been
impacted by societal norms and stigma due to the mental health illness of
depression and anxiety he encountered at the age of 24. An occupation is
something you carry out every day. According to Jane Clifford O’Brien and Jean
W. Solomon, occupation is described as “Those things people do every day that
provide them with meaning, identity and a sense of self.” Wellbeing is a broad
term which can be hard to define. The Mental Health Foundation states that, “While
it does include happiness, it also includes other things, such as how satisfied
people are with their life as a whole, their sense of purpose, and how in
control they feel.”

Part One: Introduction

University of Liverpool

of Health Sciences


Directorate of Occupational Therapy

BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy




Module Code  
Module title: OCCU136 Concepts of
Inclusive Practice

Student ID Number: 201257341



Date of submission: 15th January 2018




(State Total
Word Count): 2,142






Introduction: Part One                                                                                              


Definition of Sociological Concept                                                                            1


Understanding of the Sociological Concept                                                           


Overview of Matt Haig’s Life Experience and Living with
Impairments             2


Life Event Illustrating the Impact of the Sociological
Concept                             3


Conclusion                                                                                                                     3


Introduction: Part Two                                                                                                5


Definition Sociological Concept                                                                                 5


Understanding of the Sociological Concept                                                             5


Examples from the Autobiographical Narrative                                                      6


Examples from Personal Experience/ Media                                                           6       


Relevance to Occupational Therapy                                                                          7


Conclusion                                                                                                                      7


References                                                                                                                     9