Health Identity: Theoretical and empirical development of a health education concept

Dan Grabowski


In school-based health education, it is often difficult to present health in ways children and adolescents accept as relevant and meaningful. This often results in misconceived approaches that have little or no effect on acquisition of health knowledge or changes in health behaviour. Many approaches only manage to appeal to children and adolescents who are already healthy. One way to approach this is to look at the role identity plays in health. Implementing a concept of identity within health education poses two main challenges, which are addressed in the objectives of the present paper: to theoretically and empirically develop a concept of health identity, and to make this concept useable in health education practice. Against the backdrop of these challenges and objectives, the paper proposes the following definition of a concept of health identity: “Children’s and adolescents' observations and expectations concerning their own health, their knowledge about health and in what ways their health is related and comparable to the health of others.” This health identity concept – based on Luhmann’s theories of observation and expectational structures supplemented with Taylor’s theories on social imaginaries and horizons of significance – provides a new framework for identity theory and health education research and development.

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Copyright (c) 2015 Dan Grabowski

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Journal of Sociological Research ISSN 1948-5468


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