Health Capital: An Empirical Study of Danish Healthcare Professionals’ Bodily Investments
In the health care field itself, such bodily investments may be of particular importance. The agents that occupy the field will be expected to ‘perform’ health in accordance with established knowledge regiments and practices. Arguably, their own bodies are at play in the interprofessional and professional-patient interaction. Yet, we may also expect endowments of health capital among different agents in the health care field to be differentiated along different social strata.
The paper presents results from a study of the possessions of health capital among healthcare professionals – nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurse assistants and health consultants. By use of quantitative (survey with 1,000 respondents) and qualitative data (30 individual interviews), we explore similarities and differences among and within the professions. In physiotherapy the physical body is significant and articulated in textbooks and verbally by physiotherapist (strong/weak, slim/fat), but concrete occupational positions strongly determine exactly how these are practiced, for example in opposition between private physiotherapeutic clinics opposed to public institutions. Discussing the empirical data we elaborate on theoretical implications concerning habitus, capital and field, as well as primary, secondary and tertiary socialization.