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: 3.5). 08/2008; 62(7):e13. DOI: 10.1136/jech.2007.066159
Source: PubMed


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.

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Available from: Thomas Abel, Jan 07, 2014
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    • "[14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] There are studies of socioeconomic differences and health [22] [23] as well as cultural differences and health. [24] [25] Family income is a key determinant of health child development, reducing the children's likelihood of incurring certain illnesses and cushioning the consequences of ill-health. [21] [23] Evidence also shows that social trust and social support are associated with life satisfaction globally and that the correlation is stronger in high-income countries, particularly for Northern Europe, than for less developed societies. "

    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015
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    • "Globally culture shapes the behaviour of individuals, families and communities. Through culture a heritage is build which is known as cultural capital (Abel, 2008). Cultural capital is a set of family, group and community-sanctioned norms and values prescribing acceptable behaviours among its members. "

    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015
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    • "Likely, research into the role of cultural capital is hampered by the unfamiliarity of researchers with the concept, and by the lack of clear indicators and measures of cultural capital that can be applied to study (inequalities in) health behaviours. Abel (2008) noted that new indicators need to be developed for studying cultural capital in relation to health and health behaviour [20]. The aim of the present paper was to develop a set of questionnaire items in order to investigate to what extent the possession of cultural capital differs between socioeconomic groups, "
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    ABSTRACT: Unhealthy food choices follow a socioeconomic gradient that may partly be explained by one's 'cultural capital', as defined by Bourdieu. We aim 1) to carry out a systematic review to identify existing quantitative measures of cultural capital, 2) to develop a questionnaire to measure cultural capital for food choices, and 3) to empirically test associations of socioeconomic position with cultural capital and food choices, and of cultural capital with food choices. We systematically searched large databases for the key-word 'cultural capital' in title or abstract. Indicators of objectivised cultural capital and family institutionalised cultural capital, as identified by the review, were translated to food choice relevant indicators. For incorporated cultural capital, we used existing questionnaires that measured the concepts underlying the variety of indicators as identified by the review, i.e. participation, skills, knowledge, values. The questionnaire was empirically tested in a postal survey completed by 2,953 adults participating in the GLOBE cohort study, The Netherlands, in 2011. The review yielded 113 studies that fulfilled our inclusion criteria. Several indicators of family institutionalised (e.g. parents' education completed) and objectivised cultural capital (e.g. possession of books, art) were consistently used. Incorporated cultural capital was measured with a large variety of indicators (e.g. cultural participation, skills). Based on this, we developed a questionnaire to measure cultural capital in relation to food choices. An empirical test of the questionnaire showed acceptable overall internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha of .654; 56 items), and positive associations between socioeconomic position and cultural capital, and between cultural capital and healthy food choices. Cultural capital may be a promising determinant for (socioeconomic inequalities in) food choices.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · PLoS ONE
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