Rhetoric of health citizenship: exploring vernacular critiques of government's role in supporting healthy living

Spoel, Philippa, Harris, Roma and Henwood, Flis (2013) Rhetoric of health citizenship: exploring vernacular critiques of government's role in supporting healthy living Journal of Medical Humanities, 35 (2). pp. 131-147. ISSN 1041-3545

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Abstract

This article explores how older adults negotiate and partially counter normativeexpectations of "health citizenship" that stress individual responsibility for maintaining healthand preventing health problems. Based on interviews with 55 participants in Canada and theU.K. about what healthy living means to them in their everyday lives, we examine how thedominant discourse of personal responsibility in participants' responses is counterpointed by amore muted, yet significant, alternative critical perspective on the relative roles and responsibilitiesof government and citizens in making healthy living possible. Drawing on Hauser's(1999) concept of vernacular rhetoric along with recent theories of environmental citizenship,we analyze how participants exercise their civic-political judgment by using a logic ofdissociation to argue that what government says about the importance of healthy living isincompatible with what government does to support citizens' abilities to eat healthily and liveactively. By deploying this technique of argumentation to address structural-political-economicdimensions of healthy living, participants enact, in modest ways, an alternative, criticalcollectivemode of health citizenship that complicates and, at least partially, disrupts neoliberalconstructions of the individually responsible, "good" health citizen.

Item Type: Journal article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Health citizenship; Public health; Vernacular rhetoric; Practical reasoning
DOI (a stable link to the resource): 10.1007/s10912-014-9276-6
Depositing User: Converis
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2015 03:00
Last Modified: 11 Feb 2015 10:22
URI: http://eprints.brighton.ac.uk/id/eprint/13241

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