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Social representations of healthy eating: An empirical study in Colombia.

Parales Quenza, Carlos Jose (2000) Social representations of healthy eating: An empirical study in Colombia. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The practice of health promotion has been dominated by approaches based on theories of the attitude and social cognition. Drawing on two basic assumptions, (a) that individuals are primarily rational, and (b) that there is a causal relationship between attitudes and behaviour, the interventions based on these models assume that the provision of information will affect the attitude and hence lead to behaviour change. Based on the theory of social representations the thesis develops a broader and more heuristic perspective for the study of health issues. This theory proposes that rationality is a collective issue and views the relationship between concepts and actions as symbolic phenomena to be understood in their context of occurrence. Based on this theory the thesis explores the contents and structure of the representation of healthy eating in four groups in Colombian society (two rural and two urban, professionals and non-professionals). A multi-method approach combines an observational study, a multi-level content analysis of media and group discussions, and the structural analysis of the representation using free association procedures. The data are analysed using qualitative techniques, analysis of corpus, factor correspondence analysis and calling into question procedures, and interpreted within the structural perspective of social representations theory. The results indicate that eating is being transformed into a dilemmatic issue, of everyday life, reflecting important social and economic changes at the end of the century. The ambiguous and paradoxical representation of health and healthy eating is evident in the more affluent environments and both a transformation in the perceived relations between culture and nature, and concerns about the longevity and disease prevention. Health marketing and policy implementation, it is argued, must take account of these influences to develop effective campaigns. The thesis concludes with an examination of the potential contributions of the theory of social representations to understand the social psychological aspects of nutritional behaviour.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Health Sciences, Public Health, Psychology, Social
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Psychological and Behavioural Science

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