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Social capital, local community participation and the construction of Pakistani identities in England : implications for health inequalities policies

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Emphasis has been placed on the importance of the participation of socially excluded groups in local initiatives to reduce health inequalities in England, in "partnerships" with government. We examine potential obstacles to such participation through a micro-qualitative case study of factors shaping local participation by residents of a deprived multi-ethnic area in England who describe themselves as Pakistani. We draw on three-hour in-depth interviews with 26 men and women, aged 15-66 years. Assuming that a sense of common identification is a precondition for participation in local community networks, we examine how the construction of Pakistani identities, within conditions of material and symbolic social exclusion, constrains the likelihood of widespread, representative local participation by Pakistani people in our local area of interest. Our interviews highlight the complexities inherent in seeking to translate epidemiological findings into policy directives that implicitly presuppose the existence of cohesive ethnic identities at the local community level. No matter how significant a category such as 'Pakistani' might be in statistical analyses of health inequalities, an epidemiological category of this nature cannot simply be 'mapped' onto policy recommendations - particularly those involving complex and richly textured social-psychological and community-level phenomena such as social identity or participation. interviews with 26 men and women, aged 15-66 years. Assuming that a sense of common identification is a precondition for participation in local community networks, we examine how the construction of Pakistani identities, within conditions of material and symbolic social exclusion, constrains the likelihood of widespread, representative local participation by Pakistani people in our local area of interest. Our interviews highlight the complexities inherent in seeking to translate epidemiological findings into policy directives that implicitly presuppose the existence of cohesive ethnic identities at the local community level. No matter how significant a category such as 'Pakistani' might be in statistical analyses of health inequalities, an epidemiological category of this nature cannot simply be 'mapped' onto policy recommendations - particularly those involving complex and richly textured social-psychological and community-level phenomena such as social identity or participation.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/179/1/902-pakistani-jhp-revisions.pdf

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