Contemporary Epidemiology: A Review of Critical Discussions Within the Discipline and A Call for Further Dialogue with Social Theory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The discipline of epidemiology, which holds major influence on public health policy as well as on clinical medical practice, has in recent decades to a large extent been concerned with the identification of factors and markers of risk for disease. Much health information and intervention is thus informed by a wealth of studies on a variety of risk factors, of which the individual is encouraged to keep informed and to be responsible about. Meanwhile, risk factor epidemiology has been subject to intense debate, both within and outside the discipline. The following review offers an overview of critical intradisciplinary debates. It then opens discussion on three partially overlapping areas where social theory has been called upon to contribute to epidemiological inquiry, namely analysis of macro-social determinants of health and disease, of categories of human difference and of embodiment. The review ends with, and is motivated by, a plea for further integration of and dialogue between epidemiology and social theory.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • Epidemiology, Health, risk, intradisciplinary debate
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-171
JournalSociology Compass
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch

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