Wright, C., Avis, James, Fisher, Pamela, Gifford, Chris, Locke, Abigail and Swindells, Steve (2010) Health, wellbeing and active citizenship. In: British Sociological Association Medical Sociology Group Annual Conference, 1st - 3rd September 2010, Durham, UK. (Unpublished)

This paper is based on a current research project at the University of Huddersfield’s Institute for Health Citizenship. The research is exploring the understandings of health, wellbeing and citizenship by analysing the discourse of trainee further education (FE) lecturers. Initially, a literature review of policy documents was undertaken to identify dominant discourses in relation to health, wellbeing and inclusion. Two exploratory focus groups were held: one with a group of pre-service trainees and one with in service trainees. The policy literature suggests that ideas around health and wellbeing are being discursively repositioned. Whilst previously regarded as a fortunate state of being or condition, the dominant discourses now tend to construct health and wellbeing as contingent on individual behaviour – behaviour that is inextricably tied up with a particular model of citizenship and personal accountability. Put another way, the ‘good and active citizen’ must ‘choose’ to be healthy. Despite this individualisation, issues of health and wellbeing appear to be embedded within systems of surveillance, carried out by various state agencies, organisations and charities, including the further education sector. However, this surveillance and intervention is not straightforward. Initial findings from the focus groups suggest that trainee lecturers draw on conflicting discourses of health and wellbeing, and have developed counter discourses that resist or provide alternatives to the dominant model of ‘active citizenship’. This paper begins to disentangle the complexities between active citizenship, health and wellbeing and government public health policy, and how these directives are practised and understood at ground-level.

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