Enacting Ethos, Enacting Health: Realizing Health in the Everyday Life of a California Family of Mexican Descent



Abstract Drawing on a study of dual-earner, middle-class families in Los Angeles, in this article I explore what it means to enact health as part of everyday life for a family of Mexican descent and how enacting health relates to parental talk about health. Based on a conjoint analysis of video recordings and parental interviews, I maintain that a recurring interactional dynamic toward maintaining an emotional atmosphere of individual contentment and harmonious relationships is central to how the family enacts health. Inspired by Bateson's discussion of ethos as part of his efforts to study the “feel” of culture, the analytic framework of enacting ethos is proposed as a way to approach the “feel” of everyday life—an interactive view of emotional atmosphere in situated contexts. For this family, studying health as ensconced in family life reveals the centrality of a socially embedded and relational view of health as “family well-being” that coexists, at times ambivalently, with health construed as an individual level concern. Examples from the video recordings illustrate some of the varied ways that the approach adopted allows for a more nuanced understanding of the microcultural realm of family life.