- How health risks prevention shapes collective identities: a micro-sociological approach
- Health, Risk & Society
- Volume | Issue number
- 17 | 5-6
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Sociological theories of health risks in late modernity emphasise the individualisation and increasing anxiety that results from prevention policies, while bio-sociality theories point to the creation of new, biologically or medically based social identities. In this article, we outline an alternative approach. We use micro-sociological interaction ritual theory to examine how health risk prevention technology shape interactions that generate collective identities. Drawing on fieldwork in two Dutch villages in 2008-2009 and again in 2014 that created interview, survey and observational data, we show that automatic external defibrillators turned into symbols of collective identity that elicited feelings of group membership, reflected moral values and filled community members with pride. We demonstrate that this collective identity formation process was shaped by the institutional and technological network of the automatic external defibrillators. In the concluding section of the article, we explore the conditions under which health-related collective identities might develop, particularly with regard to the institutions that create health policies and foster health risk awareness.
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