Illness is a human experience, in which biological processes are shaped by social, political and economic conditions, by cultural beliefs and values, and by systems of language and meaning. The organization of health care involves not just hospitals and medical personnel, but also public health, environmental protection, urban planning and political action at multiple levels – increasingly involving transnational organizations, corporations, NGOs, community groups and many other actors.
Changing biomedical technologies are having consequences for our very notions of normality and pathology, creating new realities and new expectations about life and health. Medicine and health – from basic biomedical research to the implementation of policies and practices - are increasingly global matters. The determinants of health, and of inequalities in health, are profoundly social, and in turn, health and illness have profound effects on individual human lives and on social and political relations.
We are a unique interdisciplinary social science department working in collaboration with biomedical researchers and clinicians. We seek to understand the social determinants of health, illness and ageing, and the way in which advances in biomedicine and biotechnology are changing the nature of medical practice and conceptions of health and illness.