Cultural capital and smoking in young adults: applying new indicators to explore social inequalities in health behaviour.

Gagné, Thierry; Frohlich, Katherine L; Abel, Thomas (2015). Cultural capital and smoking in young adults: applying new indicators to explore social inequalities in health behaviour. European journal of public health, 25(5), pp. 818-823. Oxford University Press 10.1093/eurpub/ckv069

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BACKGROUND Associations between social status and health behaviours are well documented, but the mechanisms involved are less understood. Cultural capital theory may contribute to a better understanding by expanding the scope of inequality indicators to include individuals' knowledge, skills, beliefs and material goods to examine how these indicators impact individuals' health lifestyles. We explore the structure and applicability of a set of cultural capital indicators in the empirical exploration of smoking behaviour among young male adults. METHODS We analysed data from the Swiss Federal Survey of Adolescents (CH-X) 2010-11 panel of young Swiss males (n = 10 736). A set of nine theoretically relevant variables (including incorporated, institutionalized and objectified cultural capital) were investigated using exploratory factor analysis. Regression models were run to observe the association between factor scores and smoking outcomes. Outcome measures consisted of daily smoking status and the number of cigarettes smoked by daily smokers. RESULTS Cultural capital indicators aggregated in a three-factor solution representing 'health values', 'education and knowledge' and 'family resources'. Each factor score predicted the smoking outcomes. In young males, scoring low on health values, education and knowledge and family resources was associated with a higher risk of being a daily smoker and of smoking more cigarettes daily. CONCLUSION Cultural capital measures that include, but go beyond, educational attainment can improve prediction models of smoking in young male adults. New measures of cultural capital may thus contribute to our understanding of the social status-based resources that individuals can use towards health behaviours.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Abel, Thomas


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services




Oxford University Press




Doris Kopp Heim

Date Deposited:

17 Apr 2015 10:20

Last Modified:

01 Oct 2018 02:30

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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