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three-generational households where age is not seen as a negative and grandparents continue to provide an important role in households.In this argument, it is not just views of the body that influence how people experience these “local biologies” but also issues of social structure, gender relationships, and cultural values placed on age and stages in the life course.So just as scholars have argued for recognizing the way that culture-specific syndromes in non-Western cultures demonstrate the interaction between culture, biology, and society, the same
may also be said for Western biomedicine as the way we think about, experience, and interact with our bodies and illness is tied to larger issues of religion, social structure, politics, economics as well as the physical and supernatural environments.Hello, my name is Dan Hruschka, I’m an assistant professor of medical anthropology at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change here at ASU and in this lesson, I’ll tell you a little bit about my research.My main research interest is understanding how cultural and social factors influence health behaviors and outcomes. I’ve pursued this interest in studies of maternal and child health in Bangladesh, and, in the last two years, I’ve begun to do research on changing patterns of nutrition and obesity around the world. Finally, human health depends, in many ways, on the health and care that we receive from others, and so a third area of my research focuses on how people in different cultures make tough decisions about helping certain people but neglecting others. The unifying element in all of this research is trying to understand when and under what conditions socially learned ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and values ultimately influence our behaviorand health outcomes and, importantly, when they do not. The importance of ideas for behaviors is not a mere academic debate. Public health programs frequently spend considerablemoney on changing people’s ideas in the hopes that that will improve people’s health behaviors,and the failure of some public health programs is often attributed to failure to account for local cultural categories, values, or beliefs. Here I’ll describe two case studies, one about body size ideals and one about causal beliefs surrounding the measles, mumps, rubella jab and autism to examine how and when ideas are related to behavior and health outcomes. To illustrate, let me start with a simple toy model. According to this model, an idea gets in our head, either by reading a newspaper article about the link between the measles, mumps, rubella jab and autism, by hearing about how smoking can cause cancer, by seeing the body size of our friends and developing an ideal body size. Somehow these ideals are learned. How this learning happens is an important area of exploration, but for now I will place a black box around it.