Sociology of Food and Nutrition
Student Number: 237001
Submission date: 7th October 2012
Word count: 1550
From before we are conceived to the time that we die, social practices constantly affect our health and wellbeing. When comparing the Australian Aboriginal community to the rest of the Australian population there are many differences that need to be taken into account when medical treatment is required. These differences included the basic lay understandings and perceptions of health and illness within the community, plus the powerful relationship between people and food (Nettleton 2006, p.1). Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus is one ...view middle of the document...
Nettleton (2006, p.34) states, “ Lay beliefs are shaped by a person’s social environment including their structural location, cultural context, personal bibliography and social identity”. This is very true in the case of the Australian Indigenous community who have quite a different view on health and illness compared to the rest the wider Australian population. The Australian Aboriginal view of health is ‘holistic’ and encompasses physical, mental, cultural and spiritual health. Land is fundamental to well being. These ‘holistic’ ideals do not
simply refer to the ‘whole body’ but to the harmonized interrelations, which define cultural well-being. These inter-relating factors can be classified as
spiritual, environmental, ideological, political, social, economic, mental and
physical (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2009, p.14) Australian Aboriginal communities define health as “Not just the physical well-being of the individual but the social, emotional, and cultural well being of the whole community” (AIDA 2008, p. 2). It is believed that good health is maintained when there is rigorous compliance to accepted behaviors
within the community and when dangerous people, places and objects are avoided (Maher 1999, P. 230). The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) (2008, p. 2) acknowledge that factors such as racism, history, oppression and the ongoing impacts of dispossession, in particular an individuals experience of grief and trauma throughout colonization, the loss of land and culture and the separation from family, also have an influence on the health of Aboriginal Australians, and can therefore be viewed as social determinants of health’.
Aboriginal communities discuss that too little or too much of anything will create a lack of balance and leave the body susceptible to illness (Thompson & Gifford 2000, p.1463). Social and spiritual dysfunction also has a major influence on the harmony of the body (Maher 1999, P. 230). Therefor it must be understood that when the harmony of these interrelations
is disrupted, ill health will persist (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2009, p.14). Table 2 displays the beliefs around the causation of illness, injury and death in categories such as natural, environmental, direct supernatural, indirect supernatural and emergent/western. These causes include physical assault, injury, unacceptable behavior, breach of a taboo and poor dietary factors (Maher 1999, P. 230).
The relationship between people and food is of upmost importance to Australian Aboriginal communities’. An individuals food practices provide an essential and symbolic connection to their extended family, culture and spiritual beliefs. Thompson and Gifford (2000, p. 1466) state that “Connections to food and land are often spoke about as being matrilineal’. Traditionally, Aboriginal people were semi-nomadic, adapted well to their environment and lived by a hunter-gather type lifestyle (Dudgeon,...