Bourdieu: Theory, Method, Concepts and Use in Health and Health Systems Research

Open Lectures by 5 high estimated scholars from USA (UCSF), UK (London), Australia (Melbourne and Sydney) and Denmark (Aalborg) – And Following up on ‘Health Sociology - studies and inspirations from the Bourdieuian tradition’, there will be organized a session of 1½ hour with individual ph.d. presentations of relevant themes from their dissertations and discussion with the Scholars in 3-4 smaller groups. Some ph.d. students will revisit the scholars as they participated in similar course in 2017.


It has become increasingly necessary in our globalized world to seek better understandings of the inequalities of health outcomes, and the role our healthcare systems play in improving or simply re-producing these. This Ph.D. course offers a new approach to the study of healthcare by engaging with Pierre Bourdieu's conceptual triad of capital, habitus and field. This triad - and his unique methodology - provide a way of understanding the most significant issues facing healthcare analysts around the world today - why do health inequalities, such as race, class and gender, persist, despite the growing levels of funding from governments and the private sector? Why is it so difficult to reform and improve healthcare services? Why do patients find the healthcare system so difficult to access and navigate? These presentations seeks to address these and many other questions about health and healthcare. It offers clear explanations of Bourdieu's concepts, reveals how these have been used in different ways in the literature, and, drawing from the many real world studies by the scholars themselves, demonstrates their application through a variety of case studies of health and healthcare from around the world.


Overall theme: Bourdieu: Theory, Method, Concepts and Use in Health and Health Systems Research


Fran Collyer (Sydney university, Australia)

Leslie Dubbin (UC San Francisco, USA)

Kristian Larsen (Aalborg University, Denmark)

Sasha Scambler (King’s College London, England)

Karen Willis (Melbourne – La Trobe University, Australia)

Key literature:

Abel, T. (2008). Cultural capital and social inequality in health. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health., 62(e13), 1–5.

Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bourdieu, P. (1990). The logic of practice. Cambridge: Policy Press.

Cockerham, W. C. (2005). Health Lifestye Theory and the Convergence of Agency and Structure. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 46(1), 51–67.

Collyer, F. (2018). Envisaging the healthcare sector as a field: moving from Talcott Parsons to Pierre Bourdieu. Social Theory and Health, 16, 111–126.

Dubbin, L. A., Chang, J. S., & Shim, J. K. (2013). Cultural health capital and the interactional dynamics of patient-centered care. Social Science & Medicine, 93, 113–120.

Larsen, K, Harslof, I, Cutchin, M 2013, Health Capital: New Health Risks and Personal Investments in the Body in the Context of Changing Nordic Welfare States. in I Harsløf & R Ulmestig (eds), Changing Social Risks and Social Policy Responses in the Nordic Welfare States. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp. 165-188.

Scambler, S., & Newton, P. (2011). Capital transactions, disruptions and the emergence of personal capital in a lifeworld under attack. Social Theory and Health, 9(2), 130–146.

Venue: Aalborg University Copenhagen, AC Meyers Vænge, 2450 Copenhagen SV, Room