Ideological underpinnings
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Application of the sociological method of critical analysis, however, takes us further than the individual vs. social structure debate. We reject the ‘victim blaming’ approach so admirably revealed by a close examination of the effects of concentrating on ‘lifestyles’ health education. But the level of analysis employed by Pearson (1986) allows us to see the ideologies that underpin such strategies. It is not, she says, simply that ‘victim blaming’ is wrong; that the ‘lifestyles’ approach is ineffective; it is that these policies are racist, depending as they do on a particular socially constructed view of ‘Asian’. This view constructs ‘Asians’ as a homogeneous group, subject to a single but all-embracing ‘culture’. This undifferentiated group is also constructed as particularly prone to certain diseases as a consequence of their ethnic origins (which may of course be highly varied). Action to improve this ‘disease proneness’ is assumed to be best undertaken by individuals (by changing their lifestyles) but this is regarded as impossible due to the rigid nature of their allembracing, but now constructed as conservative, culture. This ideology therefore constructs the notion of an ‘Asian culture’ which is pathological, and indeed a pathological Asian population. Most revealing of all, however, is that the discourse that underpins this ideology is that of scientific medicine. To be Asian is bad for your health; it is no accident that ‘pathological’ is the term employed.