The importance of health behaviour is increasingly prominent in health–related research and policy interventions. As a result, the belief that there are discrete, observable, and measureable behaviours has become almost universally adopted. Often they are often conceived of in the negative as things people do that are bad for them, and which should therefore be subject to corrective, individualised interventions.
In response, From Health Behaviours to Health Practices assesses the limitations of the concept through international contributions that complement, as well as critique, dominant conceptualisations of health behaviour. Drawing on a wide range of theoretical and empirical sources, the book explores whether there are alternative ways to both think through and conduct research into what people do and don t do in relation to their health and experiences of illness. The volume collectively argues for a more socially situated approach, proposing that the term health practices has far greater potential to acknowledge the more complex, dynamic and contingent nature of everyday activities.
Serving as an important point of reference for debate, the book additionally questions the potential contribution of contemporary medical sociology, and the social sciences more generally, in the context of the rise of multidisciplinary and mixed methods health research.
Notes on contributors vii
1 From health behaviours to health practices: an introduction 1Simon Cohn
2 Actors, patients and agency: a recent history 7David Armstrong
3 A socially situated approach to inform ways to improve health and wellbeing 19Christine Horrocks and Sally Johnson
4 A relational approach to health practices: towards transcending the agency–structure divide 31Gerry Veenstra and Patrick John Burnett
5 Environmental justice and health practices: understanding how health inequities arise at the local level 43Katherine L. Frohlich and Thomas Abel
6 Why behavioural health promotion endures despite its failure to reduce health inequities 57Fran Baum and Matthew Fisher
7 Behaviour change and social blinkers? The role of sociology in trials of self–management behavior in chronic conditions 69Bie Nio Ong, Anne Rogers, Anne Kennedy, Peter Bower, Tom Sanders, Andrew Morden, Sudeh Cheraghi–Sohi, Jane C. Richardson and Fiona Stevenson
8 Thinking about changing mobility practices: how a social practice approach can help 82Sarah Nettleton and Judith Green
9 Providers constructions of pregnant and early parenting women who use substances 95Cecilia Benoit, Camille Stengel, Lenora Marcellus, Helga Hallgrimsdottir, John Anderson, Karen MacKinnon,Rachel Phillips, Pilar Zazueta and Sinead Charbonneau
10 Staying in the zone but not passing the point of no return : embodiment, gender and drinking in mid–life 106Antonia C. Lyons, Carol Emslie and Kate Hunt
11 Complexities and contingencies conceptualised: towards a model of reproductive navigation 120Erica van der Sijpt
12 Sustained multiplicity in everyday cholesterol reduction: repertoires and practices in talk about healthy living 132Catherine M. Will and Kate Weiner
13 Enjoy your food: on losing weight and taking pleasure 145Else Vogel and Annemarie Mol
Simon Cohn is a Reader in Medical Anthropology at the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. His research focuses on issues related to diagnosis, contested conditions and chronic illness in the UK and other high–income societies. With a strong commitment to contemporary social theory, Cohn is interested in ways in which innovative social science can shape aspects of medical practice.