Repository | Book | Chapter

Pierre Bourdieu

health lifestyles, the family and social class

Kate Huppatz

pp. 370-385

Pierre Bourdieu is a not a theorist readily associated with the sociology of health, illness and medicine. Bourdieu was very much focused on social class cultures and, while he examined the bodily dimensions of classed experience and the production of knowledge, he was generally unconcerned with health issues. Nevertheless, William Cockerham (2013a:251) observes that Bourdieu has recently become fashionable in medical sociology and his concepts "social capital', "habitus' and "lifestyles' are most popular. Cockerham (2013a) claims Bourdieu's new-found popularity is an aspect of medical sociology's recent "theoretical turn', and that his concepts appeal to medical sociologists who wish to move their thinking from "methodological individualism' to focus on the relationship between health and social structures. Bourdieu's theory is therefore useful for "building bridges between mainstream theory and medical sociology' (Williams 1995:601). Of particular interest for this chapter, Bourdieu theorised lifestyle practices, and his understanding of the ways in which these practices are embedded within and enact class culture helps researchers to explain the prevalence of unhealthy lifestyle practices in an era in which rich nations have unprecedented access to health education.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1057/9781137355621_24

Full citation:

Huppatz, K. (2015)., Pierre Bourdieu: health lifestyles, the family and social class, in F. Collyer (ed.), The Palgrave handbook of social theory in health, illness and medicine, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 370-385.

This document is unfortunately not available for download at the moment.