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Governing health and consumption

Governing health and consumption: Sensible citizens, behaviour and the city

Clare Herrick
Copyright Date: 2011
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  • Book Info
    Governing health and consumption
    Book Description:

    This book critically explores the urban governance of healthy lifestyles and the contemporary problematisations of the obesity, sedentarism and alcohol epidemics. To do so, it uses US and UK case studies to shed light on the complex socio-spatial dynamics of responsibilities for health and argues for an engagement with the construct of sensible behaviour at a time of its rising political salience. This book will appeal to sociologists, geographers, anthropologists and those concerned with the governance of health and lifestyle.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-639-0
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. List of figures, tables and maps
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Acronyms
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. About the author
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    In 2006, the UK’s Health and Safety Executive carried out what it termed a ‘sensible risk debate’ as a direct response to growing public fears that government intervention in private decision making had reached excessive and, in many cases, simply untenable levels. Action had been catalysed by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s 2005 speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research in which he set out the UK’s commitment to placing the theme of better regulation at the heart of its 2005 European Union presidency term. Stating categorically that ‘we cannot eliminate risk, we have to live with it, manage it’,...

  8. TWO Being sensible
    (pp. 17-34)

    Health is essential to individual, social and economic wellbeing. For this reason, it is central to political wellbeing or, put another way, political viability. Political success is increasingly being judged against public health parameters; the intensely divided reaction to the Obama administration’s passing of the Health Bill or the emotive debate over ringfencing the NHS budget in the UK’s 2010 general election are clear cases in point. As such, any examination of health goes straight to the heart of the rationalities, modes, tools and techniques of liberal governance that have been so ably explored by governmentality theorists in sociology, law,...

  9. THREE Governing behaviour change in risky environments
    (pp. 35-50)

    Sensible, healthy citizens require an environment conducive to the exercise of appropriately sensible and healthy behavioural choices. However, the interplay between individual behaviour, environmental/structural attributes and health outcomes is extraordinarily intricate. As a result, identifyingcausalrelationships between these factors is fraught with methodological difficulties. This is further complicated by the current trend within social policy of conflating the health costs and long-term effects of chronic diseases induced by lifestyle choices with a broader critique of an ‘urban condition’ characterised by decline, inequality and congenital irresponsibility (Peterson and Lupton 1996). Yet, despite recognition of the distinctive relationships between the urban...

  10. FOUR Obesity and strategies of rule
    (pp. 51-80)

    This chapter argues that being sensible has three strategic roles in the context of governing the purported ‘obesity epidemic’ (Flegal 2006; Mitchell and McTigue 2007; Chiolero and Paccaud 2009; Wright and Harwood 2009): as a personal and collective risk mitigation strategy; as a way of overcoming both individual and geographical luck; and as a core driver of growth within the food and beverage market. Being sensible thus does not necessarily entail self-denial and the avoidance of consumption, but rather the creation of new market opportunities for the instrumental deployment of purposeful and informed consumption choices. As Bauman’s quote above suggests,...

  11. FIVE The incidentally sensible city
    (pp. 81-116)

    This chapter explores the nature of what has been termed the ‘obesogenic’ environment (Swinburn et al 1999). It does so in the context of the manifold and variegated efforts that try to address national and local rates of obesity in two cities in the US and UK: Austin, Texas and London. The comparison of these two national and urban settings is crucial, if only to dispel the assumption that America is distinctly and particularly obesogenic (Lang and Rayner 2007). In so doing, the chapter also aims to provide a counterpoint to related assertions that the UK ‘looks like America in...

  12. SIX Events and the lucratively sensible city
    (pp. 117-142)

    This chapter changes tack slightly to consider a particular point of intersection between physical activity, the built environment and behavioural readings of health: the event. More specifically, it draws on the phenomenon of mass participation running events (MPREs) to explore how ‘event thinking’ has permeated the governmental and non-governmental aspiration of creating a more active populace. In contrast to the previous chapter’s focus onincidentalphysical activity such as walking and cycling, this considers efforts to promote and encourage the uptake of sport as leisure. Defined by the Council of Europe’sEuropean Sport Charteras, ‘all forms of physical activity...

  13. SEVEN The sensible drinker and the persistence of pleasure
    (pp. 143-172)

    This chapter explores the ways in which drinking and drink epitomise the deep paradoxes inherent in efforts to govern consumption, especially in the UK, where alcohol has risen inexorably up government agendas since 1997. New Labour’s efforts to both tackle alcohol-related harm and, at the same time, to reinvigorate city and town centres was underpinned by a drive to create and promote a ‘new sensible drinking culture’ (Department of Health 2007: 5) as part of the strong faith the government placed in the paradigm of both cultural and behaviour change (Cabinet Office 2004, 2008) discussed in Chapter Three. Historians of...

  14. EIGHT Spatial governance and the night-time economy
    (pp. 173-204)

    This chapter explores the contentious rise and rise of London’s night-time economy (NTE) as a means of investigating the increasingly spatialised logic underpinning the techniques and rationales being deployed to foster a sensible drinking culture in the UK. As such, this chapter speaks directly to the third contention of this book as set out in Chapter Three. In this reading, the enterprise of governing alcohol lays bare particular governmental and non-governmental aspirations for urban environments and societies. However, this vision is distinctly ambiguous in that while certain urban agendas are being pursuedthroughalcohol (for example through ‘drink-led regeneration’), other...

  15. NINE What life is this? Some concluding thoughts
    (pp. 205-214)

    As I write this conclusion, the UK and US are undergoing major governance upheavals. In the UK, the arrival of the coalition government in May 2010 instigated great debate about the future of public services and, therefore, the kinds of behavioural expectations, rights and responsibilities being placed on citizens. This renewed debate is notable principally because it demonstrates the temporal and spatial pervasiveness of the arguments about the role of sensible behaviour in urban governance regimes put forward in this book, as well as the entrenched and intractable nature of the risks associated with diet, sedentarism and drinking. In the...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 215-244)
  17. Index
    (pp. 245-250)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 251-251)