More than culture: Structural racism, intersectionality theory, and immigrant health

Edna A. Viruell-Fuentes, Patricia Y. Miranda, Sawsan Abdulrahim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Explanations for immigrant health outcomes often invoke culture through the use of the concept of acculturation. The over reliance on cultural explanations for immigrant health outcomes has been the topic of growing debate, with the critics' main concern being that such explanations obscure the impact of structural factors on immigrant health disparities. In this paper, we highlight the shortcomings of cultural explanations as currently employed in the health literature, and argue for a shift from individual culture-based frameworks, to perspectives that address how multiple dimensions of inequality intersect to impact health outcomes. Based on our review of the literature, we suggest specific lines of inquiry regarding immigrants' experiences with day-to-day discrimination, as well as on the roles that place and immigration policies play in shaping immigrant health outcomes. The paper concludes with suggestions for integrating intersectionality theory in future research on immigrant health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2099-2106
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Acculturation
  • Discrimination
  • Immigrant health
  • Immigration policies
  • Intersectionality theory
  • Racialization processes
  • Racism
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


Dive into the research topics of 'More than culture: Structural racism, intersectionality theory, and immigrant health'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this