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The health of populations: general theories and particular realities
  1. Maria Melchior

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    Stephen J Kunitz. . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006, £29.99 (hardback).

    As new discoveries in the biomedical sciences make it increasingly possible to identify individuals whose characteristics, whether genetic, psychological, biological or behavioural, put them at risk of diverse health problems, it is important to keep in mind that health is also a function of the broader social context.1 2 In this captivating new book, Stephen J. Kunitz reminds us of the constant tension between our individual destinies and the communities in which we live.3

    Part I of the book describes contemporary theories of disease causation. Chapter 1 discusses the emergence of two opposing schools of thought following the Industrial Revolution: the “New Public Health”, which used “scientific objectivity” to highlight individuals’ responsibility in promoting their own well-being, and the “New social medicine”, which laid the “social environment” at …

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