A Bourdieusian approach to class-related inequalities: the role of capitals and capital structure in the utilisation of healthcare services in later life

Ivana Paccoud, James Nazroo, Anja Leist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper draws on Bourdieu's theory of economic, social and cultural capital to understand the relative effect of the volume and the composition of these capitals on healthcare service use in later life. Based on data from the fifth wave of the Survey of Health, Aging, and Retirement in Europe (n = 64,840), we first look at the contribution of each capital in the use of three healthcare services (general practitioner, dentist and hospital). Using cluster analysis, we then mobilise Bourdieu's concept of habitus to explain how the unequal distribution of material and non-material capitals acquired in childhood lead to different levels of health and hospital care utilisation in later life. After controlling for demographic and health insurance variables, our results show that economic capital has the strongest individual association among the three capitals. However, the results of a cluster analysis used to distinguish between capital structures show that those with high non-material capital and low material capital have higher levels of primary healthcare utilisation, and in turn lower levels of hospital use. Bourdieu's approach sheds light on the importance of capitals in all forms and structures to understand the class-related mechanisms that contribute to different levels of healthcare use.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2019

Keywords

  • Bourdieu
  • capitals
  • class
  • healthcare utilisation
  • inequalities

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