The society we live in, ethnic community we belong to, neighborhoods we reside in – all our surroundings have adverse impacts on our health and well being. Social forces have an immense and multifaceted effect on the steadiness of intimate and communal interactions. These social factors tend to impact openly or in hidden ways: their influence may be implicit or explicit. This paper is, therefore, concerned with investigation of such social factors as education, income, and mass media and their consequences on people.
The healthcare system and health conditions of people are affected by the society around them. Studies have shown higher prevalence of certain diseases among certain communities and neighborhoods. The approaches to treating diseases and providing medical care also differ from community to community. Besides, scientists have established how people’s behaviors may protect them from disease or can put them at risk getting ill.
A person’s behavior is partially shaped by his or her individual characteristics, including genetics, but there is growing evidence that the environments in which people learn, adopt, and maintain behaviors also play a crucial role. Many significant risk factors relating to disease in America are influenced by a person’s position on the economic and social ladder. There is a strong link between education and income, which are the main indicators of social and economic well-being, and health-related disorders. Thus, the higher one’s income and the more the person is educated, the fewer health-harming behaviors he/she establishes and the more he/she cares about his/her health. Naturally, families with higher incomes are more likely to eat healthier foods, while those with lower incomes eat vegetables and fruits more rarely. Besides, the quality of people’s diets depends on the neighborhood accessibility of healthy foods, which relates to availability of such foods in nearby stores.
Studies by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have also shown that education and income are associated with drug use and abuse in the United States of America. The highest rates of drug abuse can be typically seen in the lowest-income and least-educated groups. The same pattern is observed in smoking rates: the least economically and socially advantaged people are more prone to smoking. Smoking rates have also been associated with neighborhood characteristics; rates of smoking are higher in neighborhoods with more convenience stores, higher crime levels, and limited access to transportation and exercise facilities. Socioeconomic disadvantage during childhood has also been associated with smoking later in life.
Practices and techniques of education are fast changing in the United States of America. This can be attributed to the rapid flow of information, changing tastes and preferences, improved consumer enlightenment, and shifting of the skill structure. The traditional perceptions about child development and growth seem to change with the publication of each new study. Learning styles and school curriculums evolve to suit the new customer needs (Institute of Medicine (U.S.) & Committee on Health and Behavior: Research, Practice, and Policy, 2001). Furthermore, political forces, social changes, economic pressures as well as opinions and values keep on developing in the United States. These changes are bound to impact educational practices. Evolution is a natural process that is constantly happening and is fueled by research and other empirical studies.
The swiftly expanding blend of culture and ethnicity in the United States of America and the shifting demographics will continue impacting on the U.S. education system. Since the American society is extraordinarily diverse, equally diverse and intense methods of education are need to be employed. Ethnocentrism is less prominent than in previous generations, and community schools have a more diluted population. Back in the days of Jim Crow’s racial segregation, there were distinct Schools for white students and others for minority groups. The quality of education in these schools had mammoth differences due to such factors as government funding, availability of qualified tutors, and cold-hearted discrimination and oppression. However, conditions have changed in most states, and there is an equal mix of students in most schools without any form of discrimination. Multicultural curricula and keen attempts to adopt unbiased programs have made a positive influence on American schools and neighborhoods (Marx, 2004).
Interest and concerns about global issues have also impacted our country’s schools and institutions of learning, and consequently, the nation’s attitude toward education. Much of American social and cultural life has been changed due to shifting job markets, connections to global products as well as new different values and beliefs. Chief educational associations in the United States have established international departments, and the gradual escalation in global conferences on education highlights this trend. In order to further comparative education, many American institutions of higher learning have opened sister campuses in yonder lands to enhance the notion of worldwide common interest and concern.
The population mix in a given society determines the type as well as level of education that is offered. For instance, private schools are more common in neighborhoods where predominantly white people reside than in those with minority communities. This can be explained by the level of relative income between the two groups or the need to invest in education. It has been proven by the O-ring theory that people will invest in education depending on the expected returns in terms of wages. It is no secret that white workers are paid higher wages than their black and Hispanic counterparts. This affects the minorities desire to invest in education. The level of drop-outs is, thus, higher in the schools of minority groups than in those attended by white children.
Technological advancements have always been considered as significant support and enhancement tools for schools and educational institutions. In the twenty first century, new technological developments influence curriculum decisions, modes of instruction, and communication with families and communities. Use of the Internet and other electronic communication devices make thousands of kilometers in distance an insignificant variable in global communications. This has led to the improvement and growth of home schools, e-learning, and access to information in remote areas (Croteau & Hoynes, 2003).
The relationship between mass media and society is extremely complex. Society influences what the mass media provides, and mass media also influences changes, attitudes, and opinions in society. This symbiotic relationship between society and mass media influences the way we view each other as well as a variety of social issues. People’s outlook plays a vital role in the different forms that media takes. For instance, during economic depressions and recession, people were seeking to escape from their daily problems through media. This led to the growth of social entertainment sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The channels on television attracted more reality show viewers. This urge to withdraw from the harsh realities of life is known as escapism.
The legal system of many countries tries to keep abreast with media that directly impacts on society. For instance, the United States government attempts to limit what they view to be obscene material especially on television and print media. If the society standards (perceived or true) reject some material as obscene or insulting, mass media will refrain from airing such content.
The term violent behavior has numerous differing backgrounds when looking at the range of offences that are committed throughout humanity. Violent behavior can vary from a small verbal threat or gesture (misdemeanor) to resilient physical violence and vicious murder. Instances of violent behavior can be witnessed daily in our communities, whether fictional or real, through our TV sets and other forms of media. The media frequently look at interpersonal delinquencies that contribute to high levels of physical violence so as to involve the publics’ fear. Scientific reports show that criminal activity may be as a result of one’s genetic makeup. However, the greatest source and motivation for criminal activity is our environment and societies we live in. Going by this premise, we can conclude that criminal activity is learnt. For instance, a child whose parent(s) is prone to hooliganism and erratic behavior is highly likely to become a criminal offender in future (Barnett, Miller-Perrin, & Perrin, 2005).
Unfortunate as it may be, there is a strong link between violence and social disadvantage. Social disadvantage refers to the relatively unfavorable conditions that are experienced by people in relation to differences in social and economic resources and opportunities tied to factors such as income and wealth, education and occupation. Greater social disadvantage increases the likelihood that a person will be exposed to -directly or indirectly- violence in their community. Poor people are more drawn to violence and criminal activity as a result of their inability to get meaningful employment, pressure in life, and a mental disposition to violence. Thus, white and black women who live in poor U.S. neighborhoods are more likely to experience intimate partner violence, even after considering individual-level characteristics such as educational attainment, household income, marital status, employment, number of children, and alcohol use (Berkman & Kawachi, 2000).
The above report shows that society is influenced directly or indirectly by diverse factors such as education, income and mass media. It is, therefore, our obligation to regulate and govern the spread of these influences. The society is made up of you and I, and we are the only ones to choose what we do or do not want to do.