2 Jul 2022


Biological and Cultural Construction of Race and Racial Health Disparities

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Academic level: College

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The Structural-Constructivist model is a theoretical approach that points out the racial and ethnic disparities in health. In this case, it presents dual nature of mankind’s existence where on one hand, there is the constructivist perspective while on the other there is the social structure. The constructivist perspectives involve common beliefs that that are gathered from interactions with others in a given community. The social structure notion identifies the influence of external forces within society that they are deeply rooted in especially relating to social relationships that share and distribute expectations of others. Through this dual perspective, a logical argument on how the formation of ethnic categories leads to creation of biological beliefs is developed in the excerpt. 

Research conducted by Gravlee is depicted to seek the structural-constructivist perspective of the skin color of Puerto Ricans. Through the use of a similar research conducted in Brazil, the investigator was able to find significant phenotypic descriptors that respondents agreed represented significant attributes of the skin color of Puerto Rico citizens (Dressler, Oths, & Gravlee, 2005). This practice is a clear attempt by the researcher to identify the cultural constructions of the respondents. The surveyed population would help in presenting a common belief of the skin color associated with Puerto Ricans and realizing a cultural consensus. 

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Following further research on the relation between skin color and blood pressure, varying results were found. Self-rated skin color and ascribed skin color demonstrated a close relation with blood pressure significant in interactions with SES (Dressler et al., 2005). The socioeconomic status assigned to higher and lower groups influenced blood pressure. For the lower groups it remained uniform while in the higher groups those categorized as blacks were found to have higher blood pressure. This research is a clear demonstration of the intersection between biological and cultural constructions (Dressler et al., 2005). Race is a creation of cultural and social beliefs. However, the effects of poor lifestyle choices are biological constructions. The study enables members identify how racial stratification could adversely affect a population leading to experiences like high blood pressure. 


Dressler, W. W., Oths, K. S. & Gravlee, C. C. (2005) “Race and Ethnicity in Public Health Research: Models to Explain Health Disparities” Annual Review of Anthropology , 34: 231-252. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Biological and Cultural Construction of Race and Racial Health Disparities.


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