A New Epidemiology

Part of the International Perspectives on Social Policy, Administration, and Practice book series (IPSPAP)


Epidemiology has been a regular part of traditional social planning. In this case, the general idea is to determine the level of a problem in certain geographical or social region. Calculations are often made, for example, of the incidence and spread of a disease (Friedman, Primer of epidemiology, 1994). Typically these estimations are based on the presence of various empirical referents, particularly certain demographic and environmental factors. But following the advent of a community-based philosophy, this mode of social assessment is no longer thought to be adequate. The field of public health has not been exempt from this trend. But many analysts believe that these modes of assessment are abstract and reductionistic (Susser, Epidemiology, 15(5):519–520, 2004). For example, communities are treated as if they represent clusters of socio-economic traits. Furthermore, certain cultural features and psychological propensities, such as motivation or possibly moral character, are linked to the empirical characteristics of an environment. This abstract model is used to predict the onset, distribution, and impact of a problem. The notion that a community is more than a place, circumscribed by empirical indices, is not given serious consideration.


Traditional epidemiology New epidemiology Popular epidemiology Public health Eco-epidemiology Bio-psycho-social strategy Holism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA

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