Racial ideology and explanations for health inequalities among middle-class whites

Carles Muntaner, C. Nagoshi, C. Diala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Middle-class whites' explanations for racial inequalities in health can have a profound impact on the type of questions addressed in epidemiology and public health research. These explanations also constitute a subset of white racial ideology (i.e., racism) that in itself powerfully affects the health of non-whites. This study begins to examine the nature of attributions for racial inequalities in health among university students who by definition are likely to be involved in the research, policy, and service professions (the upper middle class). Investigation of the degree to which middle-class whites attribute racial inequalities in cardiovascular health (between themselves and African Americans, American Indians, or Asian Americans) to biological, social, or lifestyle factors reveals that whites tend to attribute their own health to lifestyle choice and to biology rather than to social factors. These results suggest that contemporary middle-class whites' "self-serving" explanations for racial inequalities in health are comprised of two beliefs: implicit biologism (race is an attribute of organisms rather than a social relation) and liberal belief in self-determination, choice, and individual responsibility-some of the core lay beliefs of the worldview that sustains neoliberal capitalism. Contemporary white middle-class explanations for racial inequalities in health appear to include assumptions that justify class inequality. Liberal approaches to racism in public health are bound to miss a key component of racial ideology that is currently used to justify racial and class inequalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-668
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
Volume31
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Sep 12
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

middle class
ideology
Health
health
Racism
racism
Life Style
biologism
Public Health
public health
Capitalism
Personal Autonomy
Asian Americans
North American Indians
research policy
American Indian
epidemiology
worldview
self-determination
Research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Health Policy
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

Racial ideology and explanations for health inequalities among middle-class whites. / Muntaner, Carles; Nagoshi, C.; Diala, C.

In: International Journal of Health Services, Vol. 31, No. 3, 12.09.2001, p. 659-668.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Muntaner, Carles ; Nagoshi, C. ; Diala, C. / Racial ideology and explanations for health inequalities among middle-class whites. In: International Journal of Health Services. 2001 ; Vol. 31, No. 3. pp. 659-668.
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