Article

Cultural capital and social inequality in health.

University of Berne, Switzerland, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Division of Social and Behavioural Health Research, Niesenweg 6, 3012 Berne/Switzerland.
Journal of epidemiology and community health (Impact Factor: 3.04). 08/2008; 62(7):e13. DOI:10.1136/jech.2007.066159
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Economic and social resources are known to contribute to the unequal distribution of health outcomes. Culture-related factors such as normative beliefs, knowledge and behaviours have also been shown to be associated with health status. The role and function of cultural resources in the unequal distribution of health is addressed. Drawing on the work of French Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, the concept of cultural capital for its contribution to the current understanding of social inequalities in health is explored. It is suggested that class related cultural resources interact with economic and social capital in the social structuring of people's health chances and choices. It is concluded that cultural capital is a key element in the behavioural transformation of social inequality into health inequality. New directions for empirical research on the interplay between economic, social and cultural capital are outlined.

0 0
 · 
2 Bookmarks
 · 
349 Views
  • Source
    [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Educational attainment has been shown to influence access to and quality of health care. However, the influence of educational attainment on decision-making at the end of life with possible or certain life-shortening effect (ELDs ie intensified pain and symptom alleviation, non-treatment decisions, euthanasia/physician-assisted suicide, and life-ending acts without explicit request) is scarcely studied. This paper examines differences between educational groups pertaining to prevalence of ELDs, the decision-making process and end-of-life treatment characteristics. We performed a retrospective survey among physicians certifying a large representative sample of Belgian deaths in 2007. Differences between educational groups were adjusted for relevant confounders (age, sex, cause of death and marital status). Intensified pain and symptom alleviation and non-treatment decisions are more likely to occur in higher educated than in lower educated patients. These decisions were less likely to be discussed with either patient or family, or with colleague physicians, in lower educated patients. A positive association between education and prevalence of euthanasia/assisted suicide (acts as well as requests) disappeared when adjusting for cause of death. No differences between educational groups were found in the treatment goal in the last week, but higher educated patients were more likely to receive opioids in the last day of life. There are some important differences and possible inequities between educational groups in end-of-life decision-making in Belgium. Future research should investigate whether the found differences reflect differences in knowledge of and adherence to patient preferences, and indicate a discrepancy in quality of the end of life.
    BMC Public Health 11/2013; 13(1):1055. · 2.08 Impact Factor
  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: As intuitive and inviting as it may appear, the concept of patient-centered care has been difficult to conceptualize, institutionalize and operationalize. Informed by Bourdieu's concepts of cultural capital and habitus, we employ the framework of cultural health capital to uncover the ways in which both patients' and providers' cultural resources, assets, and interactional styles influence their abilities to mutually achieve patient-centered care. Cultural health capital is defined as a specialized collection of cultural skills, attitudes, behaviors and interactional styles that are valued, leveraged, and exchanged by both patients and providers during clinical interactions. In this paper, we report the findings of a qualitative study conducted from 2010 to 2011 in the Western United States. We investigated the various elements of cultural health capital, how patients and providers used cultural health capital to engage with each other, and how this process shaped the patient-centeredness of interactions. We find that the accomplishment of patient-centered care is highly dependent upon habitus and the cultural health capital that both patients and providers bring to health care interactions. Not only are some cultural resources more highly valued than others, their differential mobilization can facilitate or impede engagement and communication between patients and their providers. The focus of cultural health capital on the ways fundamental social inequalities are manifest in clinical interactions enables providers, patients, and health care organizations to consider how such inequalities can confound patient-centered care.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 09/2013; 93C:113-120. · 2.73 Impact Factor
  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: While empirical evidence continues to show that people living in low socio-economic status neighbourhoods are less likely to engage in health-enhancing behaviour, our understanding of why this is so remains less than clear. We suggest that two changes could take place to move from description to understanding in this field; (i) a move away from the established concept of individual health behaviour to a contextualised understanding of health practices; and (ii) a switch from focusing on health inequalities in outcomes to health inequities in conditions. We apply Pierre Bourdieu's theory on capital interaction but find it insufficient with regard to the role of agency for structural change. We therefore introduce Amartya Sen's capability approach as a useful link between capital interaction theory and action to reduce social inequities in health-related practices. Sen's capability theory also elucidates the importance of discussing unequal chances in terms of inequity, rather than inequality, in order to underscore the moral nature of inequalities. We draw on the discussion in social geography on environmental injustice, which also underscores the moral nature of the spatial distribution of opportunities. The article ends by applying this approach to the 'Interdisciplinary study of inequalities in smoking' framework.
    Sociology of Health & Illness 12/2013; · 1.88 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

View
91 Downloads
Available from
Jan 7, 2014