Fall Term, 2014
Anthropology Tan Sack Lecture Series
Friday's at Noon
OCT. 3 James Broesch, PhD - Measurement of Culture and Its Impact on Health
While culture is frequently cited as an important factor in the production of health, particularly in relation to health disparities, it is rarely directly evaluated. Moreover, its pathways of influence are often not clearly specified. Understanding the degree to which culture affects health disparities hinges on how culture is operationalized and on devising an effective approach for measuring the sharedness of culture within and between groups. In this presentation, I will discuss 1) how social network analysis can be used to evaluate pathways of cultural transmission, and 2) a framework for the measurement of shared attitudes, norms, beliefs and knowledge in specific domains (i.e., cultural models) in a population. To illustrate this framework for measuring culture, I will discuss a project that evaluated claims regarding the role of culture in the production of childhood overweight and obesity disparities within the state of Wisconsin. Results indicate the existence of a single, highly shared cultural model regarding diet and physical activity, which broadly matches with the biomedical model for promoting healthy and active lifestyles. Minimal variations in cultural models by race and education do exist, but it is unlikely that these differences are substantial enough to be primary drivers of observed disparities. These results suggest that research on the barriers to enacting this cultural model may lead to more effective approaches for promoting health equity.
These lectures are subject to change so check back frequently.