Resisting “Reason”: A Comparative Anthropological Study of Social Differences and Resistance toward Health Promotion and Illness Prevention in Denmark

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Abstract

Social differences in health and illness are well documented in Denmark. However, little is known about how health practices are manifested in the everyday lives of different social classes. We propose acts of resistance and formation of health subjectivities as helpful concepts to develop our understanding of how dominant health discourses are appropriated by different social classes and transformed into different practices promoting health and preventing illness. Based on fieldwork in two different social classes, we discuss how these practices both overtly and subtly challenge the normative power of the health promotion discourse. These diverse and ambiguous forms of everyday resistance illustrate how and when situated concerns move social actors to subjectively appropriate health promotion messages. Overall, the different forms of resistance elucidate how the standardized awareness and education campaigns may perpetuate the very inequalities they try to diminish.

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