Possible implications of a perceived divide between lay and official knowledge in an area of compromised and polluted environment, and high deprivation, in North West England.
PHE ePoster Library. Elliott P. Sep 12, 2017; 186505; 118
Dr. Phil Elliott
Dr. Phil Elliott
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Abstract IntroductionDue to topography and history, Halton, Merseyside, provides a valuable natural experiment to investigate the divide between lay and official knowledge about environment and deprivation, and how these may influence health outcomes. MethodsLife history interviews were carried out to assess residents' perceptions and experiences of health and environment. Interviews were analysed for themes, then presented to local public organisation officials for reflection. ResultsResidents were aware of health messages, but it was emphasised that these were adopted despite, rather than because of, perceived edicts. Residents expressed dismay that officialdom viewed ill-health as the result of lifestyle rather than environmental or socio-economic factors. There was a perception that enduring deprivation was maintained in order to attract funding which would benefit officials with vested interests who lived outside the borough and were therefore unaffected by its problems. ConclusionHealth messages may be interpreted more from the presentation and perceived motivation for issuing the message than from the content of the message. Where there is a divide between lay and official knowledge, this motivation may be seen as a means of asserting power rather than either a scientifically-based or an altruistic programme of education or information. If lifestyles are viewed by officials as the prime factor influencing an area's health profile, this view may be interpreted by lay knowledge as a means of social control meaning that the perceived root causes of socio-economic inequality need not be tackled, and that the priority of interventions is to maintain a privileged position. External funding details ESRC
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