Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Bananas, pesticides and health in southwestern Ecuador: A scalar narrative approach to targeting public health responses.

Soc Sci Med. 2016 Feb;150:184-91. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.12.026. Epub 2015 Dec 20. Brisbois B1. Author information 1 School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, 2206 East Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada. Electronic address: Abstract Public health responses to agricultural pesticide exposure are often informed by ethnographic or other qualitative studies of pesticide risk perception. In addition to highlighting the importance of structural determinants of exposure, such studies can identify the specific scales at which pesticide-exposed individuals locate responsibility for their health issues, with implications for study and intervention design. In this study, an ethnographic approach was employed to map scalar features within explanatory narratives of pesticides and health in Ecuador's banana-producing El Oro province. Unstructured observation, 14 key informant interviews and 15 in-depth semi-structured interviews were carried out during 8 months of fieldwork in 2011-2013. Analysis of interview data was informed by human geographic literature on the social construction of scale. Individual-focused narratives of some participants highlighted characteristics such as carelessness and ignorance, leading to suggestions for educational interventions. More structural explanations invoked farm-scale processes, such as uncontrolled aerial fumigations on plantations owned by elites. Organization into cooperatives helped to protect small-scale farmers from 'deadly' banana markets, which in turn were linked to the Ecuadorian nation-state and actors in the banana-consuming world. These scalar elements interacted in complex ways that appear linked to social class, as more well-off individuals frequently attributed the health problems of other (poorer) people to individual behaviours, while providing more structural explanations of their own difficulties. Such individualizing narratives may help to stabilize inequitable social structures. Research implications of this study include the possibility of using scale-focused qualitative research to generate theory and candidate levels for multi-level models. Equity implications include a need for public health researchers planning interventions to engage with scale-linked inequities, such as disparities within nation-states. Finally, the prominence of the global North in explanatory narratives is a useful reminder that 'structural factors' prominently include inequities related to the legacies of colonialism. KEYWORDS: Bananas; Ecuador; Ethnography; Narrative; Pesticides; Risk perception; Scale; Structural