9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN16 Sociology of Health and Illness

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Public Health, Health Promotion and Risk I Building I, 1E2

Coherent health politics: A societal and individual challenge!

Nowadays there is a massive focus on the Danish peoples health through public health programs, although these all have in common, that the primary focus is on the individual citizens lifestyle and the citizens own responsibility. As a result the public health programs only have a limited impact, because they don?t capture the dualities and conflict of interests between health and society. Several Danish research studies criticize this individual approach, while they stress, that although the citizens desires a healthy lifestyle, the free and personal choice is an unrealistic ideal, because the structure of the society complicates this in the every day life.

This article provides a twofold contribution to the health debate, because it first of all queries the fact, that we in Denmark and Europe address the health problems as the citizen?s individual responsibility and don?t focus on the structural barriers, which on the societal level complicates a healthy lifestyle. The present challenge, that the lifestyle diseases account for, in Denmark as well as the rest of the Western World, is being handled in the way, that the government through ?governmentality management? informs the citizens of the right health behavior, and then leaves the responsibility for the citizens health to each individual. If we continue this narrow-minded focus on the health problems, and fail to be aware of the societal barriers, which it isn?t just the individual citizen?s but just as much the governments responsibility to suppress, we contribute to a continuous distortion in proportion to the health, and we will never suppress the lifestyle diseases.

Secondly the article contributes with a proposal to a brand new sociological and societal way of comprehending health and health promotion. In this perspective the responsibility for the citizens health doesn?t only lay with the individual citizen, but is just as much a responsibility for the government, the industry and the relevant institutions. Only if we take a broader view on the public health, where we include all these relevant levels, will we be able to locate and problematize all the barriers that inhibit the public health.