Assumptions on culture in Danish healthcare discourse - and their effects on health disparities
Publikation: Forskning - peer review › Tidsskriftartikel
The positive correlation between health and socioeconomic status is well known. In Denmark, as in other Western countries, the incidence of so called lifestyle-related diseases is higher among ethnic minority groups than among ethnic Danes. This is at least among groups at comparable socioeconomic levels. To this extent, researchers in social medicine as well as healthcare professionals have suggested that specific cultural practices may contribute to ethnicity-related health disparities. Connecting culture and health, however, opens up a discursive space in which specific practices can be discarded as ‘unhealthy’. This raises the problem of the intricate and potentially problematic role played by the culture concept in such discursive categorizations. The purpose of this article is thus to uncover typical patterns in healthcare professionals’ use of the culture concept and culture-related framings in their discourses about ethnic minority patients. The analysis is based on a large text material consisting of journal articles, information leaflets, practice-oriented guidelines, and interview data. Three overarching discursive patterns are identified: culture as an instrument of discipline and normalization, culture as a right, and culture as a mode of professionalized knowledge. The finding that ‘culture’ and cultural framings frequently occur in contexts where desirable and undesirable behaviors and modes of thinking are articulated and distinguished from another – and thus seem to serve a disciplining purpose – links the results presented here to the trend in healthcare research of drawing on Foucauldian understandings of discourse and control (Foucault 1977; Foucault 1991).
|Tidsskrift||Communication and Medicine|
- health disparities, ethnic minority patients, culture discourse, health professionals