Social networks, health and identity: exploring culturally embedded masculinity with the Pakistani community, West Midlands, UK

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Migrants from South Asia living in developed countries have an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), with limited research into underlying social causes.

We used social capital as an interpretive lens to undertake analysis of exploratory qualitative interviews with three generations of at-risk migrant Pakistani men from the West Midlands, UK. Perceptions of social networks, trust, and cultural norms associated with access to healthcare (support and information) were the primary area of exploration.

Findings highlighted the role of social networks within religious or community spaces embedded as part of ethnic enclaves. Local Mosques and gyms remained key social spaces, where culturally specific gender differences played out within the context of a diaspora community, defined ways in which individuals navigated their social spheres and influenced members of their family and community on health and social behaviours.

There are generational and age-based differences in how members use locations to access and develop social support for particular lifestyle choices. The pursuit of a healthier lifestyle varies across the diverse migrant community, determined by social hierarchies and socio-cultural factors. Living close to similar others can limit exposure to novel lifestyle choices and efforts need to be made to promote wider integration between communities and variety of locations catering to health and lifestyle.


Original languageEnglish
Article number1432
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sep 2020


  • Qualitative, Pakistani, Men, Social capital, Identity