Chapter Ten: Promoting Health as a Form of Capital: The Transformation of the Danish Healthcare Field as Experienced By Private Healthcare Professionals

  • Kristian LarsenEmail author
  • Ivan Harsløf


The predominantly public Danish healthcare system offers free or heavily subsidised access to healthcare services. Yet, as part of a general reorientation of Danish society towards marketisation in recent decades, private sector medicine has gained some foothold. The expansion of private healthcare services has been stimulated by a dramatic increase in private health insurance and a fully-fledged adoption of new public management strategies. This chapter examines how the marketisation of healthcare services, and transformations in the field of employment, may have brought about a more general commodification of health, nurturing health as an object of individual investment. It presents an analysis of four cases revolving around health professionals’ experiences with peer pressure to engage in health-related activities, their reflections on patients’ motives for seeking private health services, as well as their own strategies for maintaining and improving their health status. We conclude that transformations of fields and interrelations between them promote health investments within healthcare institutions—including private healthcare institutions—among patients and the service staff themselves on different levels. The healthcare professionals display a high level of reflection on how to play the ‘health game’, navigating a field increasingly dominated by processes of commercialisation and individualisation.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oslo Metropolitan UniversityOsloNorway
  2. 2.University Hospitals Centre for Health Research (UCSF)CopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Public HealthCopenhagen UniversityCopenhagenDenmark

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