chapter  2
Inequalities in health: oppression in bodily form
Pages 25

In this chapter we underline the case that inequalities in health should be a central concern for social work. We give evidence of the extent of this major social problem and the complex ways in which health inequalities are linked with multiple dimensions of social inequality. We argue that oppression is physically embodied in the suffering involved in ill health and premature death. We present evidence of widening inequalities across the UK population and show how these inequalities are woven into the fabric of people’s daily lives as they work to secure and maintain health for themselves and those close to them. We discuss the economic and policy backdrop to this daily labour of lay health work and argue that inequalities in health are not simply the visible outcome of a particular economic system but are part of the process through which the economic and political system is sustained. We focus on policy relating to health care as an example of the wider reconstruction of welfare.