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Soc Sci Med. 1994 May;38(10):1449-60.

Social class and adolescent smoking behaviour.

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  • 1Department of Education, King's College, University of Aberdeen, U.K.


The paper examines class based differences in smoking behaviour in middle and later adolescence. The analyses are based on questionnaire survey data drawn from a longitudinal study of adolescent socialisation, leisure and lifestyles in Scotland. Perhaps surprisingly, the social class of the family is found to have little relationship to smoking in middle and later adolescence. By contrast, marked variations in smoking are evident with respect to the current socio-economic position occupied by young people themselves in middle and later adolescence. The connections between smoking, social class background, and current social class position are examined through a consideration of inter-generational occupational mobility, and once more a clear pattern of differences is found. Thus, we conclude that there is an emergent pattern of class based differences in adolescent smoking behaviour, as young people make the transition towards adulthood. We consider the possible role that factors from the family, the peer group, and the school contexts may play in the production of these differences in smoking behaviour. We also highlight the importance that our findings may have for the health inequalities debate, and particularly for explanations which link the production of class based differences in health to processes of inter-generational mobility.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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