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Title: Ideologies of health : towards a social psychology of health inequalities
Author: Bolam, Bruce Leslie.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3469 0773
Awarding Body: University of the West of England at Bristol
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2003
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This thesis works towards a social psychology of health inequalities in order to further understanding of the relations between structure and agency (re )producing these inequities. It does so by exploring the ideological construction of health and identities associated with the axes of inequality. Employing a material-discursive methodological standpoint to link work on inequality with that of 'lay health beliefs', it is argued that discourse is the semiotic moment of practices (re )producing health inequalities. Critical discourse analysis thereby provides a means to examine the ideological construction of health and identities associated with health inequalities. The interview and focus group methods used to generate text in interaction with a small, diverse sample of participants living in Bristol are described, paying particular attention to the reflexive issues embedded within the research process. F our competing ideologies within which health and illness were constructed as discursive objects are described: minimalism, associated with health as the absence of illness and medical ideology; psychological constructions of health as wellness or happiness relating to psychological ideology; lifestyle constructions of life ethics pertaining to health promotional ideology; and holism, the interdependency of mind, body and spirit, tied to alternative health ideology. The four interwoven health identities arising from these ideologies of health and respecting the key axes of inequalities in health, namely social class, gender, ethnicity and place, are considered. Resistance to class as prejudice is explored, alongside an examination the politics of class identity and a reading of working class and middle class health identities. Hegemonic gender identities of women as carers and men as uncaring, active agents are then examined. Ethnicity as health identity emerges as a site of solidarity and fragmentation closely linked to place via the concept of community. Finally, constructions of pollution, space and community provide a structural and spacial grounding to health identities associated with place. In conclusion, the usefulness of this social psychological analysis is evaluated in consideration of individualisation in ideologies of health, interpreted as 'internalised oppression', 'methodological product' and 'an assertion of agency' in the context of recent debate about identity in late modem society. In sum, the thesis both examines the social structuring of subjects and foregrounds the ethical and political dimensions of the ideologies of health within which inequalities research must recognise its' reflexive engagement
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Psychology