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Cultural capital and social inequality in health
  1. T Abel
  1. Professor Dr T Abel, University of Berne, Switzerland, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Division of Social and Behavioural Health Research, Niesenweg 6, 3012 Berne/Switzerland; abel{at}ispm.unibe.ch

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.

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Footnotes

  • Competing interests: None.

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