Document Type

Book Chapter


In writing The Code of Health and Longevity in 1818, Sir John Sinclair hoped that with the provision: of the facts and observations, which are most essential for the preservation of health, .... that it will now be in the power of every considerable person, to ascertain what rules are suited to his particular situation, and to adopt those which are likely to be most efficacious. (Sinclair 1818: 13). Motivating Sir John’s tome nearly two hundred years ago was his concern that ‘people seldom attend to their health till it be too late’ (p.12) and that ‘the attainment of longevity, if accompanied with good health, is not only an important consideration to the individual, but also to the community to which he belongs’ (p.12). Since that time, persuading citizens to take responsibility for their health and well-being has become a pre-occupation of governments in most Western democracies. These government are said to be largely driven by neo-liberalism, with its emphasis on costcontainment, shrinking of the state, and a freeing of the market (Ball 2007). In practice, the contemporary thrust of citizenship in the context of the neo-liberal state is to increase citizens’ allegiance to the state while, at the same time, fostering practices which minimize demand for state services (Hall and Coffey 2007). The thrust for the healthy citizen sits within a broader conception of citizenship comprising of three dimensions: ‘membership of a democratic political community; the collective benefits and rights associated with membership; and participation within the community’s political, economic and social processes’ (Bellamy 2008: 12).