Health and illness experiences among the urban poor : the case of Altindağ

Özen, Yelda
In this study similarities and differences in health experiences among urban poor in relation to the forms of capital they possess: economic, social, cultural, and health capital and the different positions they hold in the urban field, are analyzed. The research was conducted in two poor gecekondu neighborhoods in Altındağ, Baraj and Gültepe, via face to face interviews with 40 individuals. A main finding has been that the different forms of capital, in volume as well as in composition, had an influence on the urban poor’s health perceptions, health care access, health seeking strategies and experiences in health institutions. The rural-urban migrants refer to a habitus in relation to health which still strongly relies on their rural practices. Major differences among men and women have been observed, where men seem to be more open to integrate into the urban dispositions. Economic capital plays a crucial role. Regular income earners do tend to emphasize that they have a certain autonomy and control over their health. On the other hand, benefit dependent poor mention that they have less control over their health. Economic capital can be seen as very much the same among the group studied, but the differences in health experiences rely strongly on Cultural capital is understood as their different identities: villager/non-villager; illiterate/ non-illiterate; women/men; healthy/non-healthy. Social capital (formal and informal solidarity networks) is studied as the role in health experiences, access to health care and strategies to use the existing health system; as well as how individuals support each other materially and immaterially. Social capital is important because it converts into economic capital, not as exchange but as use value. An analysis of the different forms of capital allows us to address at the interrelationship of structural conditions in the field and the practices actors experience through their internalized habitus. Health experiences therefore differ even among a socio-economic homogenous group. In addition to the above mentioned forms of capital, it is also argued that health itself should be considered as a form of capital. Health capital (self perceived health/illness and medically diagnosed disease) influences and is influenced by the other forms of capital.


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Citation Formats
Y. Özen, “Health and illness experiences among the urban poor : the case of Altindağ,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2008.