The Health of Populations: General Theories and Particular Realities

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Overview

In the maelstrom of current public health debate over the social determinants of health, this book offers a well-balanced discussion on the roots of prevalent strains of thought on the matter. While this area of research deals in complex problems, it is often dominated by those who deploy rather categorical, partisan positions, citing from a wide range of contradictory statistical studies. Stephen Kunitz brings a measured, balanced and independent perspective to bear on the debate, taking a step back from current arguments to look at the fundamental issues through a socio-historical lens. Part I describes how ideas about the costs and benefits of industrialization, and about the causes of disease, have been used by writers from different ideological persuasions to explain the health of populations. Part II focuses on some of the ideas that have been particularly influential in contemporary debates: factors such as standard of living, community and its loss, inequality, and globalization. The fact that these have been used to support differing explanations of the determinants of population health suggests that there are no easy generalizations in a field with so many discrepant findings. Scientists often ignore anomalous findings in the interests of advancing a particular paradigm, until the anomalies outweigh the norm and a new paradigm is created. This book argues that in considering social determinants of health, no meaningful over-arching explanations may be possible. Rather, it is by immersion in the reality of particular contexts - work settings, historical periods, geopolitical regions, and governmental credos - that we may gain a better understanding of the way in which social forces shape patterns of health and disease.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In this captivating new book, Stephen J. Kunitz reminds us of the constant tension between our individual destinies and the communities in which we live."—Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health

"This is an important and stimulating book. It shoudl be required reading for scholars and practitioners of public health, and it will find a wide and appreciative audience across the social sciences also."—International Journal of Epidemiology

"This compact text is a rich assemblage of knowledge and ideas at the intersection of epidemiology and the sociology of health. With considerable skill and profound understanding of his subject, Stephen Kunitz reviews a large body of ideas and evidence on health, medicine, and social relations."—Contemporary Sociology

"This compact text is a rich assemblage of knowledge and ideas at the intersection of epidemiology and the sociology of health...there are many good reasons for reading this book..." —Comtemporary Sociology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195308075
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/28/2006
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

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