267732 Are health and social justice divorced in the United States?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 3:10 PM - 3:30 PM

Sonia Bettez, Ph D Candidate , Department of Sociology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
In this paper I explore the construction of health in academic and political arenas in the United States. I argue that the great majority of discourse in the social sciences and in political documents about health in the United States over the past 20 years developed without a social justice foundation. Therefore, the concept of social determinants of health, although touted extensively, has not been applied effectively in research and policy aimed at ameliorating health disparities, inequalities and inequities. To find out whether or not the construction of health is divorced from a concept of social justice, I conducted a systematic review of the literature in “Health and Human Behavior” between 1990 and 2010 as an illustration of academic discourse. Additionally, I critically analyzed the 2000 and 2010 “Healthy People Reports", as representative of federal policy, to find out whether or not and how these two domains of discourse, academic and political, constructed health devoid of social justice. I found compelling explanations for the prevalence of race over class in academic and political discourse, and reasons why silence about class inequalities benefits and nurtures the capitalist system.

Learning Areas:
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the academic construction of health devoid of social justice Describe the federal government's construction of racial and ethnic health disparities Analyze the motives for maintaining a dichotomy between race and class

Keywords: Health Disparities, Social Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I developed this paper based on research conducted for my Ph.D. dissertation at the University of New Mexico. I am also a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation fellow at the Center for Health Policy.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.