“Hammered down on every side” versus “just being positive”: A critical discursive approach to health inequality

Emma Anderson*, Stephen Gibson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Socio-economic and health inequality are strongly linked and are increasingly perpetuated by discourses of individual responsibility. However, little research from a critical discursive perspective has addressed how people affected themselves may account for this relationship. This research examined the ways in which people who are in debt, unemployed, or in insecure, minimum-wage employment construct health and negotiate identities around it. Data from semistructured interviews with 6 participants were analysed and 3 main interpretative repertoires were identified: a medical repertoire of health as a lack of illness; health as adopting the “right” behaviours and attitudes; and health as being heavily influenced by external factors, such as income and life circumstances. The analysis focuses on how participants managed the tension between these latter 2 repertoires by adopting various subject positions around health: that it is “slipping” away from them; that it requires motivation; and that it is unattainable. Underpinning this is a “common-sense” idea of health as something that is worked towards through culturally approved actions and attitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-335
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date22 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • discursive psychology
  • health
  • health inequality
  • identity construction
  • unemployment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of '“Hammered down on every side” versus “just being positive”: A critical discursive approach to health inequality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this