Neighbourhood Structure and Health Promotion

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Area Effects on Behaviour and Lifestyle: The Spatiality of Injustice

  • Katherine L. FrohlichAffiliated withDépartement de médecine sociale et préventive, Université de Montréal (IRSPUM) Email author 

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This chapter concerns area-effect studies on behaviour and lifestyle. It begins by making the distinction between behaviour, lifestyle and collective lifestyles. A critical element to collective lifestyles, in distinction from behaviour or lifestyle alone, is then discussed, the role of structural constraints and opportunities in shaping people’s actions. From there, the idea is entertained that the massive urbanisation of the last few decades brings to the fore not only the role of these constraints and opportunities but also their inequitable distribution at the neighbourhood level. Some of the most commonly used theories in health promotion and social epidemiology to explain the relationship between area effects and health-related behaviours are then described. The effects of the inequitable distribution of opportunities and constraints on behaviour across space are then considered. In so doing, a well-developed discussion from within social geography regarding spatial injustice is drawn on. The chapter ends with a description of a novel theoretical approach, the Interdisciplinary Study of Inequalities in Smoking (ISIS) framework, developed by researchers in Montreal, Canada.