How health care and health promoting institutions contribute to social inequality in health: – discussed from the perspective of healthism, risk, moral and class and studied ethnographically

Bidragets oversatte titel: Hvordan sundhedsfremmeinstitutioner bidrager til social ulighed i sundhed: - diskuteret ud fra healthism, risiko, moral og klasse og studeret etnografisk

Publikation: KonferencebidragKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningpeer review


The aim of this paper is, qualitatively, to explore and discuss how risk, moralization and class intertwine in contexts of health care and health promotion work targeting children and parents. We have empirically looked into two health institutions: outreach child psychiatry and school health consultations with school starters.
A a few studies point out that health institutions increasingly contributes to social inequalities in health in spite of a focus on health promotion and participation of citizens (Aamann 2017; Dybbroe and Kappel 2012; Merrild et al. 2016; Protheroe et al. 2013; Vallgårda 2014). And critical social epidemiology calls for exploring the relation between class societies, health promotion and identities (Siegrist and Marmott, 2004).
As risk works through a strong moralization emphasizing individual responsibility (Brown 2005), ‘Health risk awareness has become a new moral code’ (Weenink et al. 2015:423) and risk is being used as ‘a means of distinction in a symbolic struggle over value and moral worth’ (Montelius and Nygren, p. 431).
However, the association between the cultural and moral significance of social class (Sayer 2005; Skeggs 1997) and the moral implications of risk have generally been inadequately explored. This paper therefore contributes to an understanding of how professionals employ class when performing risk reduction.
Looking into the scenes of health encounters in the two fields, we find that the professionals strongly frame these encounters (Bernstein, 1977) and the lower class parents have little access to controlling what is the “right way” to interact, as well as the right way to practice health. Middle classed norms of risk control outrule lower classed experiences and strategies of life. In this way health promotion and health problems are pushed more to the background in these intendedly health promoting and disease preventive encounters.
We will lastly discuss how class theory emphasizing the moral implications of class can enlighten the ways in which health care systems contribute to social inequality.
Bidragets oversatte titelHvordan sundhedsfremmeinstitutioner bidrager til social ulighed i sundhed: - diskuteret ud fra healthism, risiko, moral og klasse og studeret etnografisk
Publikationsdato9 aug. 2018
StatusUdgivet - 9 aug. 2018
BegivenhedThe 29th Nordic Sociological Association Conference : The Global North – Welfare policies, mobilities, inequalities, and social movements - Aalborg University, Aalborg, Danmark
Varighed: 8 aug. 201810 aug. 2018
Konferencens nummer: 29


KonferenceThe 29th Nordic Sociological Association Conference
LokationAalborg University
AndetThe conference focuses on the relation between Nordic countries and global processes. How do the Nordic countries influence global processes and how do global processes such as migration, division of labour, environmental problems, commodity production and discourses for modern governance influence the Nordic countries. The conference will address challenges to the Nordic countries and responses to such challenges. Hence, the conference addresses questions of migration, poverty, inequality, recent labour market and welfare state developments. The conference also focuses on responses from civil society, institutional developments, changes in organizations, management, governance and the frontline of the welfare state.


  • Class, risk, moral, control, inequality in health, health care

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