Understanding self-construction of health among the slum dwellers of India: a culture-centred approach

Moumita Das*, Federica Angeli, Onno C. P. van Schayck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Disembarking from a traditional approach of narrow hazardous environmental and structural conditions in understanding urban slums' health problems and moving towards a new notion of what constitutes health for slum dwellers will open a new avenue to recognise whether and how health is being prioritised in disadvantaged settings. Drawing on in-depth semi-structured interviews with a total of 67 men and 68 women from Kolkata slums and 62 men and 48 women from Bangalore slums, this study explored how knowledge, social realities, material and symbolic drivers of a place interweave in shaping slum-dwellers' patterned way of understanding health, and the ways health and illnesses are managed. The current study adds to the growing evidence that ordinary members of the urban slums can articulate critical linkages between their everyday sociocultural realities and health conditions, which can support the design and delivery of interventions to promote wellbeing. The concept of health is not confined to an abstract idea but manifested in slum-dwellers' sporadic practices of preventive and curative care as well as everyday living arrangements, where a complex arrangement of physical, psychological, financial, sociocultural and environmental dimensions condition their body and wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1001-1023
Number of pages23
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • culture
  • health
  • perception
  • urban slum
  • well-being
  • ill-being
  • LIVE


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