Social Class and Health Research Paper

Pages: 9 (2897 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Medieval


When unmarried, she was subjected to her father or brother. If married, she was subject to her husband. Her daily activities were also determined by her social class or status. She supported and supervised the activities and needs of the household. She led a comfortable life (Maier).

A noble lady lived a similarly privileged and comfortable life. Her day began at dawn when she said prayers and heard Mass (Maier, 2011). Her daily activities depended on the preferences of her husband. When he was away, she supervised the expenses of the manor and the estates and the collection of rents. She also handled the operations of the farms and the settling of disputes. Her leisure included embroidery, dance and conversations about games, marriage, poetry and romances. She also looked after the education of upper-class girls under her care. Later in the day, she took charge of meal preparation and sufficient storage of food. After dinner, she took charge of entertainment, often by musicians, acrobats and jugglers as well as dancers. Bedtime prayers capped her day (Maier).

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In comparison, the daily life of a servant woman or a peasant woman was one of toil and subjection to upper class people. The servant woman was usually a peasant sent to serve rich families (Maier, 2011). She was often either a nurse or a lady-in-waiting. Her daily life was determined and directed by the needs and whims of the noble woman she served. In the morning, she helped her noble woman master dress up. Clothes for the noble woman were heavy and complicated. A nurse servant took care of noble children. A servant woman was also assigned to cooking, cleaning and laundry (Maier).

TOPIC: Research Paper on Social Class and Health During Assignment

A peasant woman's day started as early as 3 in the morning when she prepared breakfast for her family before working outside at dawn (Maier, 2011). Almost all peasant women lived in the rural areas. Their daily chores besides indoors included farm work, gardening, and animal tending. In addition, they also mended clothes and made preserved foods. They had very little time left for leisure. By the time her outside work was complete at dusk, she had to come home and prepare dinner for the family. She could not eat until they were all finished (Maier).

The Children of the Poor

Children in those times in history suffered much from disease, poor nutrition and social stereotypes (Streich, 2011). The introduction of new foods from Europe's first contacts with the New World altered the diet of the people of that time. Higher infant mortality rate was a consequence. The diet of poor people of the time, especially the children, was described as inadequate and unbalanced and made them vulnerable to many diseases. This combination of disease and poor diet explained the increase in childhood deaths. The exact or near-exact mortality statistics of the poor or economically disadvantaged cannot be provided because of the absence of a record-keeping system for the period. But a study by John Boswell indicated that children were abandoned. From where they were left, they were inadequately fed, especially in southern Europe and towards the last decades of the Late Middle Ages. Anthropology profession Jack Weatherford said that the addition of potatoes and new grains to the diet during this period, however, greatly improved the people's diet. The population increased, especially in northern Europe (Streich).

High Vulnerability, a Change of Perception

Children's living conditions were always shaped by their parents' social class and status (Steich, 2011). An increase in the overall population was halted by the bubonic plague and the Hundred Years War. Children have always been the most vulnerable in such events. Pierre Goubert, commented in 1661 in France that 25 out of every hundred children died before they reached the first year of life. Another 25 never reached their 20th birthday. And less than a tenth reached old age. Children were viewed only as "little adults" who were more vulnerable to all the forces, which influenced the life of medieval peasants. It was not until the Late Middle Ages that a change in the social perception about children occurred. Again, this change in view was substantially shaped by social class structure. Education opportunities expanded, diets were improved, early medical schools were established and a religious view of social morality transitioned children from the severity of the medieval time to the progressive conditions of the early modern period in Europe. The improvement among agriculture families, however, was gradual and depended on the location. Better lifestyles became more popular in France and persisted until the 20th century (Steich).

The Nursing Prototype in the Renaissance Period

The nurse evolved from charitable religious institutions or among the poor who worked for the rich and the nobles (Sundstrom, 1998). The first nurses were nuns or sisters from the convents who worked for hospitals. Restrictions imposed by the Protestant Church in those days severely affected nursing standards at the time. Monasteries were closed and hospitals became places of torture instead of care. The views of Martin Luther of the Reformation about women sealed the fate of these hospitals and the quality of nursing care. This deprived the sick and the poor of the care they needed. The low status and perception of women in those days also determined how nurses were to be viewed and treated. They could only stay at home and only poor women could go out of the house to work. The Reformist movement suppressed the activities of Catholic religious orders extending nursing care in hospitals. These institutions and nursing care itself became stagnant. With the closing of monasteries and hospitals, the poor and the sick, instead of separated from the healthy, lived with the rest of the people in their homes. As a consequence, disease spread and epidemics arose (Sundstrom).

In the late 1500s, groups of women began caring for the sick and the dying and formed charitable institutions in order to provide care for these groups of people (Sundstrome, 1998). Many of them came from rich and influential families. Ruling classes and churches found the services of these organizations fruitful and began to support them. The view of these ruling classes and church determined the presence and quality of nursing and health care (Sundstrom).

The separation of those who contracted deadly diseases continued to be a preventive tool up to the present day (Porter, 1999). The image of the leper remained a powerful reminder and discouragement, which penalized those who caught leprosy. Physical sickness was seen as a corruption of the soul. This was the very threat of the epidemic of syphilis at the end of the 15th century. But preventive isolation and the powerful political impact of disease spread among the poor. They loomed much more in the late Middle Ages and into the modern period with the appearance of the dreaded bubonic plague, which razed continents at that time. Prevention by isolation was only one measure. Stronger regulations were instituted to control the behavior of the urban poor who were increasing and thus threatening social instability. The poor and socially deprived were not only the prime victims and also seen as the agents of the plague. The rich, for their part, were able to escape and moved to a safe location (Porter). #


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APA Style

Social Class and Health.  (2012, March 17).  Retrieved December 6, 2021, from

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"Social Class and Health."  17 March 2012.  Web.  6 December 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Social Class and Health."  March 17, 2012.  Accessed December 6, 2021.