Scambler and Higgs 2001 sympathetic critics of Coburns early paper anticipated

Scambler and higgs 2001 sympathetic critics of

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Scambler and Higgs (2001), sympathetic critics of Coburn’s early paper, anticipated his subsequent shift in their proclamation of the causal power of class. The former has argued that the period since the early 1970s has witnessed a change in the class command dynamic; namely, an intensification of class power relative to that of the (increasingly privatised and regulatory) state. Polemical illustration is afforded by the greedy bastards hypothesis (or GBH) (Scambler 2007, 2009). This asserts that Britain’s widening health inequalities can be seen as a largely unintended consequence of the voracious, ‘strategic’ appetites of a hard core or cabal in its strongly globalised capitalist-executive, backed by its more weakly globalised power elite. If men of money have always bought men of power, to paraphrase the historian Landes (1998), they have got more for their money since the early 1970s than they did in the immediate postwar years of consensual welfare-statism. Underlying the GBH is the claim that new ‘flexible’ or de-standardised work patterns, the growth of income inequality, welfare cuts, and ‘derivative’ processes like the postmodernisation of culture and novel and divisive forms of individualism, have their origins in the strategic behaviour of the GBs (Harvey 2010). When, for example, the CEOs and directors of large transnational companies, along with financiers and rentiers, pocket huge pay packages, pension pots and ‘honours’ for (a) downsizing workforces, (b) substituting part-time for full-time workers, (c) reducing work autonomy in favour of micro-managerial control, (d) outsourcing, and (e) ending final salary pension schemes, they deleteriously affect the health and longevity of (ex-)employees, and by doing so contribute positively to health inequalities. Strategic decision-making on the part of CEOs, plus the financiers, rentiers and so on that help comprise the capitalist-executive (Scambler and Scambler forthcoming), is in and of itself a risk behaviour for health. It is an approach that has more resonance with Health inequalities 137 Ó 2011 The Author Sociology of Health & Illness Ó 2011 Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness/Blackwell Publishing Ltd
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Engels and Virchow than with much recent social epidemiology. Analogously, researchers have emphasised the corporate role in influencing social and health policies and in peddling commodities like tobacco (Baba et al . 2005, Farnsworth and Holden 2006). Scambler (2007) argues that there are empirically discernible media through which class and other structural relations realise their influence on health and life expectancy. He refers to these as capital or asset flows. These are summarised in Table 2. Asset flows vary temporally and so are rarely either possessed or not, it almost invariably being a matter of degree or strength of flow. Moreover there is frequently interaction or compensation between flows. A reduced biological asset flow, for example, might be compensated for by a strong psychological asset flow, or an arrest in the flow of material assets by strong flows of social or cultural assets. As epidemiological research on the clustering of risk factors for health
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