Sociology of Health and Illness

Nowadays, the concept of cultural health capital, its content and specifics has not been fully investigated and solved.
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27 oktober 2022 | 2 minuten lezen

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Nowadays, the concept of cultural health capital, its content and specifics has not been fully investigated and solved. The idea is quite new. Its occurrence is associated with the development of skills and talents of a person. This paper will discuss the notion of cultural health capital, establish which people are least likely to have it and show the effect of low cultural health capital on the doctor – patient relationship.

Many scholars studied this issue, but it was substantiated later. Thus, Pierre Bourdieu characterizes cultural capital as three interdependent states. The first one is an incorporated cultural capital. It is the embodiment of knowledge, skills, and competence. The next one is an objectified state that is presented in the form of cultural products such as books and tools. The last state is known as an institutionalized one, which is characterized by the existence of diplomas and certificates. “CHC is defined as a specialized set of cultural skills, behaviors and interactional styles” (Shim, 2010).

Furthermore, not all people have the same cultural health capital. The latter is of inferior quality for the poor. They cannot adjust their level of medical knowledge and determine the care for their future and faith in the value of self – discipline. “Doctors often face structural barriers in the context of clinics serving low-income population” (Fiscella & Epstein, 2008). It is reflected in reaching the decision and patient adherence. Moreover, the scarce cultural health capital makes the healing process more difficult. In such a case, patients communicate less openly with doctors; consequently, it can be an obstacle for successful treatment. “They feel stereotyped” (James – Hawkins, 2014), and that prevents from building relationships of trust.

In conclusion, cultural health capital is a significant factor that helps to care for the person’s health, if the correct approach is adopted. People with below-average income have low CHC. Its absence influences the interaction with medical staff; therefore, it can affect the healing process.


Fiscella, K., Epstein, R. (2008). So much to do, so little time: Care for the socially disadvantaged and the 15-minute visit. Archives of Internal Medicine, 168(17) 1843-1852.

James – Hawkins, L. (2014). Cultural health capital and the contraceptive medical encounter. Boston, MA: Population Association of America.

Shim, J. (2010). Cultural health capital: a theoretical approach to understanding health care interactions and the dynamics of unequal treatment. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 51(1), 1-15.