Culture and Inequality of Aboriginal Communities in Canada

Every modern society must have a complex internal structure. The cause of the internal complexity of society should be regarded as a variety of customs, beliefs, interests and attitudes by which people form groups in society. In addition, people who make up a human society have a special place in the social structure, where the positions and social statuses tend to group together. Each member of a human society, going into different groups, is in multiple social spaces, which are closely related to each other. The study looks into the heterogeneity of society by means of two main basic characteristics – heterogeneity and inequality. Heterogeneity is a set of indicators that show the degree of variegation in a heterogeneous society, emphasize the richness of shades of that society. Heterogeneity tells us only about the differences in the positions of individuals, but not their rank. The second basic characteristic of a society considers inequality. Inequality is a natural difference in the state of members of modern society in some indicators. These figures describe the parameters of the rank. According to them, we can say whether it is above or below a given individual or group in relation to other individuals. The current culture allows for the existence of such disparities. The increase in the degree of social inequality is associated with leaking unequal society in social exchanges. Exceeding the permissible degree of inequality leads to a large difference in the standard of living of the individual status groups in society, which can be regarded as discrimination, infringement of certain groups of the population. In this regard, each society must develop a system of controls to reduce the degree of social inequality.

The paper will be divided into several parts: (1) the literature review part will contain the analysis of several academic articles that consider this issue; (2) the problem part will contain the ideas that will be researched and outlined in the paper; (3) the methodology part will include a theoretical approach of how the research presented in this paper may be implemented in practice; (4) the part of discussions and limitations will contain a short summary of the research paper with some suggestions about solving the problem of culture and inequality among the aboriginal communities in Canada in future.

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Literature Review

The problem of cultural inequality in healthcare establishments is not discussed by the mass media. Yet, the problem exists and sociologists pay attention to it. This literature review contains a brief overview of three most significant articles that are devoted to the problem of aboriginal inequality, as well as a brief overview of several significant books about aboriginal health problems in Canada.

The article "Embodying Psychological Health Inequalities: Brining Back Materiality and Bioagency" was written by Peter Freund and published in the magazine Social Theory and Health in 2011. The author claims that recently the new approaches of social studies appeared, particularly, the problem of social inequality and health care. This article aims to show the social gap between people, as well as to deal with the issue that social interaction becomes more and more materially focused. The author proves that recent studies have shown that there is a connection between psychological and biological factors of such behavior. With the help of bio agency, the author explains this phenomenon. In general, the article is about the connection between bio agency and materiality and psychological theories about health care system and social inequality. This article helps to understand the psychological mechanisms that allow such inequality to be. The author discusses the reasons for that from his own point of view.

The book was written by James Burgess Waldram, Doris Ann Herring and T. Kue Young, called Aboriginal Health in Canada: Historical, Cultural and Epidemiological Perspectives, was published in 2006. The book is based on a lot of research conducted in the past years about the problem of aboriginal people in Canada. The authors collected statistics data and presented them in the book. Moreover, the authors claim that not only sociological factors influenced bad health state of the representatives of aboriginal people in Canada, but also psychological, historical, spiritual, economic, cultural and environmental factors. Another peculiarity of the book is that the authors discuss the reasons for such situation; as well as the place of politics on the issue of medical health care system and the inequality among aboriginal people in Canada. The authors claim that the issue of aboriginal health care should be examined taking into account historical and cultural background of those people. At the end, the authors discuss the modern habits of curing among the aboriginal people of Canada, as well as their healthcare traditions. The book is useful when a person is trying to go deeper into this problem because it gives a thorough overview of the problem. The book is significant in terms of discussing the problem from all the sides: the authors do not focus on one issue; they deal with both the problem and the background behind it.

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An article "The Historical Roots of High Rates of Infant Death in Aboriginal Communities in Canada in the Early Twentieth century: The Case of Fisher River, Manitoba" was written in 1999 and published in a medical magazine Social Science and Medicine. This article deals with the issue of the mortality among the aboriginal infants in the community of Fisher River. The authors showed that the mortality rate in this community is higher than in developing countries (249 infants per 1000). It has been found that the most common cause of death was the acute respiratory infection. This proves that children did not have a sufficient amount of food; malnutrition was found to be the main reason for the infection that caused death. Besides, the authors connect this with the historical background of the community. Fisher River was one of the first Canadian communities, and at the beginning of the last century, its economic situation was not prospering: back those times, the Canadian government and European Canadian settlers were willing to overtake the control of fur trade. This fight influenced bad economic and political conditions within the community, which led to the high rate of infant deaths. This article shows the way settlers have treated aboriginal tribes since the very beginning. This article is significant in studying the issue of the origins of such bad treatment and reasons why aboriginal people do not receive proper healthcare nowadays.

The Problem

There is a recurring trend in Canada that health status of the aboriginal population is inferior to that of non-aboriginal Canadians (MacMillan et al., 1996). Health status can be measured by various means, such as self-rated health, prevalence on chronic illnesses and even activity limitations (Wilson & Cardwell, 2012). This essay will attempt to analyze the social determinants of health for aboriginal communities and try to capture some of the cultural explanations behind numerous health disparities. While taking psychosocial factors into account, material pathways to health will also be taken under consideration (Freund, 2011). It is crucial to understand the effect of economic and social capital on health outcomes. Therefore, the social positions of these communities must be analyzed since they translate into cultural choices, tastes, activities and practices that may or may not be detrimental to health. Individual health behaviors can be understood through Bourdieu's work on habitus (DiMaggio, 1979), and explain how they create personal dispositions, for instance, tobacco smoking has become a cultural norm and is extremely detrimental to health. Bourdieu also offers insight on how culture can maintain as well as reproduce inequality, and this is evident through intergenerational inequality (Moffat & Herring, 1999). While an analytical approach on health differences of the aboriginal community on an individual scale (agency) can be most insightful, we must also consider structural conditions such as their access to health care, lack of education and occupational structure (Joseph et al., 2012). All of these are largely determined by life chances people in these communities are given and how they shape their class situation. The ethnic disadvantage of Aboriginal people is a recurring theme at both the individual and structural scale, and an integrative approach to studying the topic at hand can draw strong conclusions as to how culture creates ethnic inequalities in the form of health disparities between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians.

Methodology

Nowadays there is no opportunity for practical research because it will take much time, especially, the calculation of results. The methodology part will contain only a theoretical approach to the problem. First of all, a researcher needs to understand who is oppressed the most: whether is it adults or teenagers, children or the elderly. Besides, it is significant to understand in what types of healthcare establishments the inequality exists. A researcher needs that to outline the category of aboriginal people who become oppressed the most because it will be easier to conduct research and the results will be clearer. The researcher should also make up a list of questions that the representatives of aboriginal people should be asked. Those questions are supposed to address a historical background, the social status of the representatives, their psychological peculiarities. Research methods are:

In the research conducted, such methods as questionnaires (both paper-pencil and web-based questionnaires) and the method of quantitative research help to collect and calculate the data. The web-based questionnaires might be the best way to conduct the research as some of the representatives of aboriginal people of Canada may be intimidated or embarrassed to answer the questions. When a researcher is eager to understand the whole situation, he or she should do everything possible to get the full image of the situation. Furthermore, we suggest conducting the research regarding the situation in the United States of America, for example, and the situation about the inequality in healthcare establishments. It is significant to compare the situations and understand how bad they are; besides, such research will help to understand the ways of solution of such a problem. Having all the facts and results of the research will help the researcher to outline the reasons for such inequality in both countries. Besides, it is significant to conduct a questionnaire among those who work in healthcare establishments to understand their points of view.

Thus, at the end, the researcher will have the full image of the problem of inequality in healthcare establishments, based on such results:

Discussion and Limitations

This paper is dedicated to the issue of social inequality among aboriginal people in healthcare establishments in Canada. As mentioned above, this issue has not been thoroughly researched before; however, there has been substantial research conducted that deals with some features of the problem. The problem of inequality among aboriginal people of Canada in healthcare establishments is significant for the country because all the citizens of Canada should have equal rights, especially in terms of maintaining good health.

The paper is divided into several parts, each of which deals with a specific issue. The literature review part contains a brief literature overview of several significant articles and books that are devoted to the question. All the resources deal with one side of the problem, whereas the proposed research deals with the problem as a whole. To conclude the literature review part, it is necessary to outline that the researchers did not present any solution for the problem; however, they outlined the main problems the representatives of aboriginal tribes in Canada face. The main problems are:

There is a theory that can be applied in this situation known as the social conflict theory. The theory is based on Marxist statement that in every society or social group there is a division into two groups: there are those who have more power and those who have less (the division into rich and poor). The aim of the most powerful groups is to use the least powerful in their own interests. There are two methods to implement this theory in life: either using force, for example, police or army or by means of economics. Marx explained that the most powerful class uses all possible means to oppress those who are not so powerful, which results into the conflict of interests. Nowadays one sees that such a situation exists in the modern world, namely, in the most developed countries such as Canada. National minorities, which do not have as much power as the representatives of the native majority, suffer because the laws protect native citizens and not the representatives of aboriginal peoples. The social conflict theory shows the reasons why social inequality exists in the modern world, and perhaps, it cannot be solved. The problem is that a single person can do nothing if his or her social group is oppressed, even if he or she is a member of the Parliament or a representative of local authorities.

In this situation, the aboriginal tribes have been oppressed from the very beginning, from the times when the first settlers came to Canada. Nowadays they do not feel that they have any power to rule the country; the same feel the employees of healthcare establishments. The problem is that the representatives of aboriginal tribes of Canada feel not only social but also psychological oppression, as it has been already mentioned. That is why the government should take some measures to solve this problem. To do so, the government should conduct in-depth research to understand the seriousness of the problem. This paper contains the theoretical research proposal that will help to realize the problem, compare it with the problems the representatives of native peoples of the world's countries have (in this case, it has been proposed to compare with the Native Americans). The research should be conducted in the Internet as well as there should be personal interviews:

Such research will help to get a full image of the problem and find the best solution. The proposal is to develop such a governmental program that will protect the rights of aboriginal people in Canada. However, the government may establish a special health care system for the representatives of the aboriginal people of Canada. Moreover, such health care establishments should have a free psychological aid because it has been proved that aboriginal people of Canada face psychological problems. Such health care establishments should be maintained by the government or by some private companies that have contracts with the government. In our opinion, if aboriginal people of Canada meet European Canadians less often and feel less oppressed, there will not be a problem of social inequality. The representatives of aboriginal people of Canada deserve to have the same rights as the descendants of the European settlers because they should feel free in their home country.

  • quantitative method;
  • qualitative method;
  • interviewing:
  • face-to-face interview;
  • telephone interview;
  • Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI);
  • questionnaires:
  • paper-pencil questionnaires;
  • web-based questionnaires.
  • web questionnaire of the representatives of aboriginal people in Canada;
  • interview with the representatives;
  • questionnaire of the representatives of native Americans;
  • interview with Native Americans;
  • interview with the representatives of the employees of healthcare establishments in Canada;
  • interview with historians, sociologists, psychologists, politicians, economists who will help to understand the origins of the problem.
  • psychological oppression;
  • social inequality;
  • political influence;
  • economic problems, etc.
  • web questionnaire of the representatives of aboriginal people in Canada;
  • interview with the representatives;
  • questionnaire of the representatives of native Americans;
  • interview with Native Americans;
  • interview with the representatives of the employees of healthcare establishments in Canada;
  • interview with historians, sociologists, psychologists, politicians, economists who will help to understand the origins of the problem.

Such research will help to get a full image of the problem and find the best solution. The proposal is to develop such a governmental program that will protect the rights of aboriginal people in Canada. However, the government may establish a special healthcare system for the representatives of the aboriginal people of Canada. Moreover, such healthcare establishments should have a free psychological aid because it has been proved that aboriginal people of Canada face psychological problems. Such healthcare establishments should be maintained by the government or by some private companies that have contracts with the government. In our opinion, if aboriginal people of Canada meet European Canadians less often and feel less oppressed, there will not be a problem of social inequality. The representatives of aboriginal people of Canada deserve to have the same rights as the descendants of the European settlers because they should feel free in their home country.

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