Socio cultural change - the key to social marketing success? A case study of increasing exercise in working class communities

Spotswood, F.; Tapp, A.
May 2010
International Journal of Health Promotion & Education;2010, Vol. 48 Issue 2, p52
Academic Journal
Case Study
This work examines the use of class-cultural theory within social marketing as a way of influencing the behaviour of groups defined by their social class. Theories in common use in social marketing (such as the Theory of Planned Behvaiour) only implicitly acknowledge the importance of social class. In this paper the authors present research that suggests that socio-cultural aspects of social class are insufficiently taken into account in explaining the differences in health related behaviours between well off and deprived groups. The research reported here used a number of indepth interviews as the platform for a qualitative study to explore the ingrained cultural resistance to undertaking regular exercise by 'working class' adults. Bourdieu's theories of class based capital were used to explain the findings. It was found that the working class 'habitus' was not supportive of voluntary exercise. This was compounded by the negative power of bonding social capital: strong ties re-enforce cultural barriers by preventing visibility of alternative activities. These findings will be of general interest to health professionals and social marketers who wish to influence the behaviour of deprived groups across many contexts. The authors comment on both the wider theoretical questions we have raised and the sector specific practical implications of the findings.


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