437 - "Understanding the nature of the strategies residents devise to address them are likely to be central to our understanding of and societal

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10 .1 17 7/ 08 91 24 16 04 26 59 79 JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY ETHNOGRAPHY / AUGUST 20 4 Schulz, Lempert / DETROIT WOMEN’S HEALTH PERCEPTIONS 437 AMY J. SCHULZ is a research associate professor in the School of Public Health and the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan. Her current research focuses on urban res- idents’ perceptions of health in relationship to the social and physical environment. LORA BEX LEMPERT is associate professor of soci- ology in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at the University of Michigan–Dearborn and an assistant research scientist at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michi- gan–Ann Arbor. Her current research focuses on vio- lence against women in South African service providers. Understanding the nature of inequalities and the strategies residents devise to address them are likely to be central to our understanding of, and societal efforts to eliminate, racial disparities in health. B EING P ART OF THE W ORLD Detroit Women’s Perceptions of Health and the Social Environment AMY J. SCHULZ University of Michigan School of Public Health LORA BEX LEMPERT University of Michigan–Dearborn Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Vol. 33 No. 4, August 2004 437-465 DOI: 10.1177/0891241604265979 © 2004 Sage Publications
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We examine African American women’s perceptions of the ways their neighborhoods affect health. Drawing upon data from participant ob- servation and focus groups with Detroit residents, we examine physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social dimensions encompassed in women’s definitions of health. The complexity of relationships between health and neighborhood emerge as women describe not only the influ- ence of neighborhood conditions on health, but also on social relation- ships that have been established as protective of health. As women describe the effects of neighborhood conditions, they describe their active efforts and strategies to maintain personal and community health. We discuss implications of these results for understanding multiple, complex associations between social inequalities, neighborhood char- acteristics, and health. We suggest that the exploratory evidence pre- sented here supports frameworks that posit the role of race-based resi- dential segregation in racial disparities in health through limiting access to social and economic resources that are necessary to sustain health. Keywords: women’s health; urban health; social dimensions of health P ersistent racial disparities in health are among the most pressing public health concerns of our time. African Americans born in the United States in 2001 can expect, on average, 5 fewer years of life than white Americans born in the same year (National Center for Health Statistics 2003), and this disparity is even greater for African Americans who reside in urban communities with few economic resources (Geronimus et al. 1996; Geronimus, Bound, and Waidmann
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437 - "Understanding the nature of the strategies residents devise to address them are likely to be central to our understanding of and societal

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