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Gender and social inequities in health—a public health issue
  1. Emily Grundy

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    Edited by Sarah P Wamala, John Lynch. Lund: Studentlitteratur, 2002, pp 266. ISBN 91-44-02202-6

    The aim of this edited volume of 10 chapters, predominantly Swedish authored, is to introduce a gender perspective into the health inequalities framework. Wamala and Lynch argue that both gender inequalities—observable differences in health and inequities-inequalities that are unjust—need consideration. The book’s orientation is sociological with due attention paid to theories of power relations and, of course, rehearsal of the distinction between gender and sex. Some chapters are based on the literature and consideration of theory, while one or two report on specific small scale studies. The theme dealt with most comprehensively is that of stress at work and additional health damaging stress faced by women because of their greater involvement in repetitive jobs and possible role conflicts and role overloads. Chapter six, by Ulf Lundberg, offers a detailed review of this topic with extensive and useful references. Certain paradoxes—notably the lower mortality of women in nearly all populations despite their higher reported morbidity and their disadvantaged socioeconomic position—are referred to but, not surprisingly, remain unresolved. The book is generally well edited, although there are some grammatical oddities and in Chapter 10 in particular (on gender and health in a multicultural society) the English is hard to follow. This chapter is rather confused even without this, jumping between terms such as ethnic minority group, immigrant and refugee as though they were interchangeable, and expounding some contradictory arguments. Even so I cannot believe that the author meant to say that “Measurement of mental health is trivial” (page 236).

    This book is strongest on discussion of debates about multiple roles and work/family life balances and would be useful for students interested in these themes. It is not comprehensive (and probably does not seek to be so); the orientation reflects the geographical location of most of the authors and certain important topics (for example, aging) receive little attention.

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