UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Culture as a Problem in Linking Material Inequality to Health : On residential crowding in the Arctic Lauster, Nathanael Thomas, 1972-; Tester, Frank J.


Two problems are noted in the process of measuring material inequality and linking it to health across cultural boundaries. First, comparative measurements may be used as the basis for policy making which ends up disciplining cultural minorities. In this way, policies intended to relieve disparities can actually have the effect of extending the power of the dominant group to define the appropriate cultural understanding of the world for the minority group. Second, comparative measurements may inaccurately inform theories of how inequality works to influence health and wellbeing. To the extent that culture mediates the relationship between inequality and outcomes of interest to researchers, those ignoring cultural differences will fail to adequately assess the impact and significance of material inequality. In this paper we discuss and illustrate these problems with reference to the study and measurement of overcrowding and its effects on health and wellbeing for Inuit communities in Nunavut, Canada.

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