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Conflicting experiences of health and habitus in a poor urban neighbourhood: a Bourdieusian ethnography

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journal contribution
posted on 01.04.2021, 09:53 by Tom Scott-Arthur, Brian Brown, Paula Saukko
An ethnographic study of health and wellbeing was undertaken in a deprived urban neighbourhood in the UK Midlands. Drawing on Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, capital and field we discerned three different, even conflicting, ways of understanding and acting on health: (i) older adults discussed their wellbeing in relation to the local context or field, walking the dog, helping at the community centre and visiting the off licence, (ii) young professionals and students who lived in the neighbourhood were oriented towards leisure facilities, career opportunities and supermarkets outside of the neighbourhood, disdaining local facilities, (iii) community activists and carers discussed health in terms of providing for others but not themselves. Bourdieu is frequently used in medical sociology to highlight how poor people’s lifestyle is constrained by their habitus; we suggest paying more attention to its both enabling and differentiating contradictions as well as the constraints it entails. Empirically and in terms of health promotion findings suggest that supposedly healthy activities, such as going to the gym, may also be a means of rejecting the local community; similarly, older people’s pottering about in the neighbourhood, which is not usually recognised as a healthy activity, may enhance wellbeing in this context.

History

School

  • Social Sciences and Humanities

Department

  • Social and Policy Studies

Published in

Sociology of Health and Illness

Publisher

Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Foundation for SHIL (SHIL)

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© 2021 The Authors.

Acceptance date

20/01/2021

Publication date

2021-04-01

Copyright date

2021

ISSN

0141-9889

eISSN

1467-9566

Language

en

Depositor

Dr Paula Saukko. Deposit date: 20 January 2021

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