Ценности самозаботы: «энтузиасты здоровья» и хэлсифицированное потребление
From a common sense perspective health is an absolute value. However, even in European societies, with their well-developed institutional infrastructure of preventive healthcare, individuals need to be encouraged, or even forced, for practicing self-care. The Russian state is also interested to promote a healthy lifestyle and self-preservation behavior among the population. Nevertheless, sociological data demonstrate that Russians are more inclined to use their health than to save and increase it for the future. Sociologists give mainly structural explanations for health investments unattractiveness, while the individuals' recognition of the value of health remains outside their attention. This paper examines the deficits of an individual’s intrinsic motivation to invest in one’s health within a valuation framework, emphasising the constructed and fluid nature of the social worth of self-care in market societies. The Russian case exemplifies the local meanings behind the value of health investments in terms of gaining return from health as a capital, consumer good and personal value. An abductive analysis of 26 in-depth interviews with Russians who enjoy health investments (‘health enthusiasts’) reconstructs mindsets that make investing in one’s health attractive. Streamlined by the valuation framework, the study reveals three levels of self-care value: physical (body taming for self-maximisation); positional (the ability to achieve new health indicators through science-based self-management as a new precursor of social status); and transcendent (projecting the desired self in terms of authentic self-expression and autonomous sustainability). Empirics signify the involvement of ‘health enthusiasts’ into consumption of market products that have been marketized as “good for health”. These commodities praise the value of health, legitimize individual interest to it, ritualize health care practices and contribute to a more self-focused, autonomous, and resilient entrepreneurial self. “Health enthusiasts” begin experiencing health as an asset, an investment into vitality and personal productivity. They discover own human potential and practice self-care as a path of “returning to oneself”. The results of the study demonstrate that market driven cultivation of self-care value may produce a utilitarian approach to self among Russians. This approach increases the subjective value of self and supports preventive self-care that is in demand in Russia. At the same time, market driven individual obsession with health may increase social competition and disintegration.