9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN16 Sociology of Health and Illness

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Inequalities and Social Revisions in European Health I Building I, 1E2

Differences in Health Seeking Strategies among the Urban Poor: The Turkish Case

In the academic and public discussions frequently one often comes across the argument that poverty is interlinked with ill-health. In such a sense, the poor are lumped into a sort of homogenized mass in which all in question are prone to health experiences. However, their health experiences may differ according to their status in the field. This study, as a part of PhD. thesis, aims to investigate the different patterns of health seeking strategies in the case of illness and protection from illness among the urban poor according to different forms of capital. Theoretically, the study follows Bourdieu's theory based on the concepts of habitus, field and the forms of capital, namely economic, cultural, social capital. In addition, health capital operationalized as self-perceived health/illness and medically diagnosed disease was used in order to understand the experience of the sick. In this framework, this study was conducted in two neighborhoods in Alt?nda?, Ankara, Turkey via face to face interviews with 40 individuals. A main finding has been that different forms of capital had an influence on and differentiated urban poor's health seeking strategies. Health care access, strong informal social capital, being regular income earning poor or benefit dependent poor, having cultural capital belonging to rural or urban field and having chronic illness shape their health experiences. In general, the urban poor tend to distinguish illnesses according to "seriousness" of illness and they decide to seek professional help, traditional or popular methods. On the one hand, benefit dependency and formal social capital is influential in health care access, informal social capital become important in coping with illness experience and non-access to health care. In addition, cultural capital plays role in distinguishing illnesses into those which necessitate traditional or scientific medicine and they categorize illnesses to be treated accordingly in relation to related habitus from the rural field. Lastly, being chronically ill necessitates following the medical advices, instead of other strategies.