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

  • Maria Wemrell
  • Juan Merlo
  • Shai Mulinari
  • Anne-Christine Hornborg
Publishing year: 2016
Language: English
Pages: 153-171
Publication/Series: Sociology Compass
Volume: 10
Issue: 2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.

Abstract english

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.


  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
  • Epidemiology
  • Health
  • risk
  • intradisciplinary debate


  • Swedish genes?
  • Multilevel analysis of individual heterogeneity
  • Social Epidemiology
  • ISSN: 1751-9020
maria wemrell
E-mail: maria [dot] wemrell [at] med [dot] lu [dot] se

Postdoctoral fellow

Social Epidemiology



Department of Gender Studies


Department of Gender Studies
Visiting address: Allhelgona Kyrkogata 14, House M, Lund
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Phone +46 46-222 00 00 (operator)
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Faculty of Social Sciences