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Understanding behaviour change in context: examining the role of midstream social marketing programmes

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Publication details

JournalSociology of health & illness
DateAccepted/In press - 8 Apr 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 16 May 2019
DatePublished (current) - 21 Sep 2019
Issue number7
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)1373-1395
Early online date16/05/19
Original languageEnglish


This research examines how midstream social marketing programmes that adopt a relational and community-based approach create opportunities for individuals to make incremental changes to health behaviour. Specifically, it applies Bourdieusian theory to explore how interactions between community healthcare workers (CHWs) and members of the public generate impetus for change and foster individual agency for improved health. Qualitative interviews were carried out with members of the public and CHWs engaged in a Smokefree home and cars initiative. The findings suggest that although CHWs are challenged by resource constraints, their practices in working with individuals and families build trust and enable dialogue that bridges smoking-related health insight with home logics. These interactions can promote individual agency with a transformative effect through small changes to smoking-related dispositions, norms and practices. However, tensions with the habitus of other household members and other capital deficits can inhibit progress towards embedding new practices. The study concludes that interventions built upon community relationships show potential for addressing limitations of information-focused campaigns but there is a need to also respond to key social structures relating to the field of action for new health dispositions to become embedded in practice.

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© 2019 Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

    Research areas

  • Bourdieu, midstream social marketing, transformative agency, social context, behaviour change

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