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1.
Perspect Public Health ; 132(6): 313-9, 2012 Nov.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-23111087

RESUMO

Modernity has brought health and social benefits to many societies, not least through the insights of science and technology. Yet, modernity has also been associated with a number of cultural characteristics, such as materialism, individualism, consumerism and an addiction to continuing economic growth, that seem potentially harmful to health and well-being and inimical to social equity. There is an emerging body of evidence that suggests that, in the affluent world, some of our most intractable contemporary health problems are, in fact, the product of modernity. This suggests that the tools of modernity (its science and its technology) are ill suited to finding solutions. This poses a problem for public health, as this discipline is itself a product of modernity and thus appears ill equipped to deal with the conditions and challenges of a rapidly changing and unstable world, one where the very sustainability of human society is now in question. This paper argues that a new paradigm for the future public health is needed. It presents an integrative, ecological framework as a starting point from which public health might grasp the opportunities for change inherent in the 'modern' threats we face. It suggests a number of features that will need to underpin such a paradigm shift in thinking and practice. However, as this paper is written from the perspective of an affluent, developed society (albeit from a perspective that is explicitly critical of the goals, trends and values that seem to characterise such societies), other voices from other places need to be heard. We hope that others will want to engage with our arguments and suggestions, whether to challenge and refute these, or to further their development.


Assuntos
Fenômenos Ecológicos e Ambientais , Educação Profissional em Saúde Pública/tendências , Ética Médica , Saúde Pública/tendências , Currículo , Países Desenvolvidos/economia , Educação Profissional em Saúde Pública/normas , Previsões , Humanos , Fatores Socioeconômicos , Tecnologia/normas , Tecnologia/tendências , Reino Unido
2.
Perspect Public Health ; 132(5): 235-9, 2012 Sep.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-22991371

RESUMO

In the centuries following the Enlightenment, scientific and technological developments gave 'modern people' an unprecedented ability to understand, predict and control the natural world. This has brought health and social benefits unimaginable to our ancestors and sets us apart from all previous generations. Yet there is a wide-ranging body of evidence that suggests that modernity is now in decline, largely because its methods and mindset are increasingly recognized as unsustainable. Problems are manifest in the emergence of new public health epidemics such as obesity and addictive behaviours, the loss of well-being and increase in anxiety and depression in affluent society, and the persistence of ever-widening health and social inequalities at national and global levels. Still larger problems now confront us, such as climate change, peak oil and the loss of biodiversity, all of which are linked to the 'modern' way of life. We are potentially faced with the collapse of certain aspects of modern society: we are certainly faced with the prospect of inevitable change. While the broad public health community has an important role to play in developing workable solutions to such daunting problems, we argue that some profound changes will be needed in order for us to cope successfully. No blueprints for dealing with change exist, which means that we will need to learn our way into the future. In this paper we take a perspective on the role and nature of the future practitioner in public health and health promotion. We argue that future practitioners will need to develop new ways of thinking, being and doing; new perspectives and new forms of understanding the world. We believe our discipline - and people generally - to be capable of such development, as insights from multiple sources tell us that human nature is malleable, not fixed. We use this analysis to trace, as examples, the imagined lives of five women living in different eras over the course of history in a Western society, and the emergence of different mindsets or worldviews, as the social, economic and cultural context changes. Post-modern analysts might insist that we have no basis for making value judgements between such different worldviews. In this paper, however, we argue that future practitioners should be empathetic to different views and willing to move beyond them, as necessary. We will need to learn and develop in ways that are compatible with our intrinsic needs as human beings and the needs of our ecosystem. We conclude by suggesting just some of the supportive processes of change needed in mapping out a more sustainable future for the public health community.


Assuntos
Evolução Cultural , Saúde Global , Promoção da Saúde/tendências , Saúde Pública/tendências , Feminino , Previsões , Humanos , Recursos Humanos
3.
J Public Health (Oxf) ; 33(3): 335-42, 2011 Sep.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-21859877

RESUMO

This article attempts to bridge the gap between the values and skills that currently inform public health and those that we need to confront the future. We draw on a set of radical arguments. Firstly, the ability of modern people to understand, predict and control the natural world has brought many benefits but evidence is accumulating that the methods and mindsets of modernity are subject to diminishing returns and adverse effects. This is manifest in the rise of new epidemics: obesity, addiction-related harm, loss of well-being, rising rates of depression and anxiety and widening inequalities. Secondly, there is little evidence that people are embracing new forms of thinking or practice, despite other threats which have the potential for massive effects on many lives, such as climate change and peak oil. Thirdly, if the problems we face may indicate that 'modernity' is in decline because unsustainable, then profound change is necessary if we are to avoid collapse. This analysis suggests that public health needs a new approach. We set out propositions and models that could help us learn our way into the future.


Assuntos
Medicina Integrativa , Saúde Pública/tendências , Previsões , Humanos , Mudança Social
4.
Glob Health Promot ; 16(4): 27-34, 2009 Dec.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-20028666

RESUMO

Evidence is accumulating that well-being in high-income societies may be static or in decline. One influential theory argues that this is because 'modern' societies are influenced by values of materialism, individualism and consumerism. Does this intellectual critique resonate with ordinary people? This article reports on interviews with purposefully selected groups in Scotland, where the relevance of the cultural critique was explored. Participants in the study believed that cultural values such as individualized consumerism do exert a damaging influence on well-being. They suggested that such values are given particular power in the context of widespread social change and increasing inequalities. Nevertheless, they also believed that individuals and communities possess the capacity to resist such trends. This article concludes that efforts to achieve material improvement for disadvantaged people may not suffice in redressing deep-seated inequalities, if the contribution of some subtle but pernicious effects of contemporary culture remains neglected. However, the research does suggest that positive responses are also possible.


Assuntos
Cultura , Nível de Saúde , Satisfação Pessoal , Condições Sociais , Adulto , Idoso , Feminino , Humanos , Entrevistas como Assunto , Masculino , Pessoa de Meia-Idade , Adulto Jovem
5.
Soc Sci Med ; 69(10): 1556-60, 2009 Nov.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-19765875

RESUMO

In the now vast empirical and theoretical literature on wellbeing knowledge of the subject is provided mainly by psychology and economics, where understanding of the concept are framed in very different ways. We briefly rehearse these, before turning to some important critical points which can be made about this burgeoning research industry, including the tight connections between the meanings of the concept with the moral value systems of particular 'modern' societies. We then argue that both the 'science' of wellbeing and its critique are, despite their diversity, re-connected by and subsumed within the emerging environmental critique of modern consumer society. This places concerns for individual and social wellbeing within the broader context of global human problems and planetary wellbeing. A growing number of thinkers now suggest that Western society and culture are dominated by materialistic and individualistic values, made manifest at the political and social levels through the unending pursuit of economic growth, and at the individual level by the seemingly endless quest for consumer goods, regardless of global implications such as broader environmental harms. The escalating growth of such values is associated with a growing sense of individual alienation, social fragmentation and civic disengagement and with the decline of more spiritual, moral and ethical aspects of life. Taken together, these multiple discourses suggest that wellbeing can be understood as a collateral casualty of the economic, social and cultural changes associated with late modernity. However, increasing concerns for the environment have the potential to counter some of these trends, and in so doing could also contribute to our wellbeing as individuals and as social beings in a finite world.


Assuntos
Saúde Mental , Mudança Social , Valores Sociais , Mudança Climática , Características Culturais , Saúde Global , Humanos , Princípios Morais , Meio Social , Fatores Socioeconômicos
6.
J Public Health (Oxf) ; 30(4): 355-61, 2008 Dec.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-18647750

RESUMO

BACKGROUND: A range of evidence suggests that the dominant culture associated with the economic systems of 'modern' societies has become a major source of pressure on global resources and may precipitate a third revolution in human history, with major implications for health and well-being. OBJECTIVE: This paper aims to consider whether there are historical analogies with contemporary circumstances which might help us make connections between past and present predicaments in the human condition; to highlight the underpinnings of such predicaments in the politico-economic and cultural systems found in 'modern' societies; to outline questions prompted by this analysis, and stimulate greater debate around the issues raised. METHODS: We draw on evidence and arguments condensed from complex research and theorizing from multiple disciplines. RESULTS: Contemporary evidence suggests that global depletion of a key energy resource (oil), increasing environmental degradation and imminent climate change can be linked to human socio-economic and cultural systems which are now out of balance with their environment. Those systems are associated with Western-type societies, where political philosophies of neo-liberalism, together with cultural values of individualism, materialism and consumerism, support an increasingly globalized capitalist economic system. Evidence points to a decline of psychological and social well-being in such societies. CONCLUSION: We need to work out how to prevent/ameliorate the harms likely to flow from climate change and rising oil costs. Public health professionals face the challenge of preventing adverse health consequences likely to result from continued adherence to the have-it-all mindset prevailing in contemporary Western societies. Equally, we need to seek out the potential health dividends that could be realized in terms of reduced obesity, improved well-being and greater social equity, while not under-estimating the likelihood of profound resistance, from many sectors of society, to unwanted but inevitable change.


Assuntos
Características Culturais , Promoção da Saúde , Saúde Pública , Valores Sociais , Humanos , Saúde Mental , Filosofia , Política , Fatores Socioeconômicos , Reino Unido
7.
Public Health ; 122(6): 631-7, 2008 Jun.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-18234253

RESUMO

The relationship between social position and health has been the focus of extensive public health debate. In the UK and elsewhere, most researchers have focused on physical aspects of health, using indicators such as mortality and morbidity to draw a picture of profound and widening social inequalities. This paper draws attention to the (neglected) influence of contemporary culture on wellbeing, arguing that the social meanings created within consumer culture possess symbolic force that can add to wider inequalities. The possession of greater material and cultural resources by people of higher social status enables them to label their preferred forms of consumption and lifestyle as desirable and legitimate, thus conveying messages about superior taste and social distinction. Symbolic rather than material forms of inequality are implicated here, with consequences for the psychological wellbeing of disadvantaged people. This paper argues that analyses of inequality need broadening to include such considerations. However, there are implications for efforts to address health inequalities because this analysis suggests that if some forms of social inequality are removed, elements within society would be motivated to invent new forms to replace them. Therefore, this article suggests processes whereby people can develop the self-awareness needed to resist the glossy illusions of the good life represented by modern consumer capitalism.


Assuntos
Cultura , Disparidades nos Níveis de Saúde , Classe Social , Humanos , Autoimagem
8.
Health promot. int ; 22(3): 261-268, Sept. 2007.
Artigo em Inglês | CidSaúde - Cidades saudáveis | ID: cid-59655

RESUMO

The concept of well-being is now of interest to many disciplines; as a consequence, it presents an increasingly complex and contested territory. We suggest that much current thinking about well-being can be summarized in terms of four main discourses: scientific, popular, critical and environmental. Exponents of the scientific discourse argue that subjective well-being is now static or declining in developed countries: a paradox for economists, as incomes have grown considerably. Psychological observations on the loss of subjective well-being have also entered popular awareness, in simplified form, and conceptions of well-being as happiness are now influencing contemporary political debate and policy-making. These views have not escaped criticism. Philosophers understand well-being as part of a flourishing human life, not just happiness. Some social theorists critique the export of specific cultural concepts of well-being as human universals. Others view well-being as a potentially divisive construct that may contribute to maintaining social inequalities. Environmentalists argue that socio-cultural patterns of over-consumption, within the neo-liberal economies of developed societies, present an impending ecological threat to individual, social and global well-being. As the four discourses carry different implications for action, we conclude by considering their varied utility and applicability for health promotion. (AU)


Assuntos
Humanos , Atitude Frente a Saúde/etnologia , Promoção da Saúde , Psicologia Social , Saúde Pública , Cultura , Comportamento do Consumidor , Internacionalidade , Satisfação Pessoal , Identificação Social , Felicidade
9.
Health Promot Int ; 22(3): 261-8, 2007 Sep.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-17704097

RESUMO

The concept of well-being is now of interest to many disciplines; as a consequence, it presents an increasingly complex and contested territory. We suggest that much current thinking about well-being can be summarized in terms of four main discourses: scientific, popular, critical and environmental. Exponents of the scientific discourse argue that subjective well-being is now static or declining in developed countries: a paradox for economists, as incomes have grown considerably. Psychological observations on the loss of subjective well-being have also entered popular awareness, in simplified form, and conceptions of well-being as happiness are now influencing contemporary political debate and policy-making. These views have not escaped criticism. Philosophers understand well-being as part of a flourishing human life, not just happiness. Some social theorists critique the export of specific cultural concepts of well-being as human universals. Others view well-being as a potentially divisive construct that may contribute to maintaining social inequalities. Environmentalists argue that socio-cultural patterns of over-consumption, within the neo-liberal economies of developed societies, present an impending ecological threat to individual, social and global well-being. As the four discourses carry different implications for action, we conclude by considering their varied utility and applicability for health promotion.


Assuntos
Atitude Frente a Saúde/etnologia , Cultura , Promoção da Saúde , Psicologia Social , Saúde Pública , Comportamento do Consumidor , Felicidade , Humanos , Internacionalidade , Satisfação Pessoal , Identificação Social
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