Ema Hresanova, University of West Bohemia, Pilsen, the Czech Republic
1.1. General Call
Differences and social inequalities in health and healthcare in contemporary societies
The area of sociology of health and healthcare has a long tradition of studies on the issue of health inequalities and of the way(s) our different (European) societies have dealt with it. This topic remains today a major public health concern. Indeed, the gap between socio-economic groups is widening. Inequalities in health and in healthcare are increasing between countries and between the regions inside of our countries.
To face the current international economic crisis, the prevailing response of governments has been to reduce social benefits to bring down welfare spending, which has had an impact on our health services as well as on families’ and individuals’ forms of caretaking. The processes of neo-liberalization and commercialization of health care has been exacerbated. Access to professional healthcare has become more difficult for many as in many countries public sector funding is reduced and private providers enter healthcare in increasing numbers.
Alongside this context of economic recession and welfare shortening, the deepening and extraordinary acceleration of global processes of political, social and cultural changes has also impinge on health care. This is provoking paradoxical situations and zones of tensions, which may give some insights on how these processes are democratizing (or not) healthcare systems. For instance, bio-economy is growing while ‘alternative’ healing practices are increasingly challenging the biomedical model –although still predominant. The dominance of medical professionals is more and more contested as healthcare providers diversify their offer of health care and as “patients” are encouraged to be more active on their own health, especially in chronic illness caretaking. Distinct -and sometimes differing- messages on how to promote health or prevent illness complications coexist nowadays among health professionals. This cacophony of recommendations is widened by the role that Internet is taking in the field of health (online healthcare advice, forum, private clinics websites, personal blogs relating subjective experiences/opinions on health issues, etc. ).
The forthcoming ESA conference, in Prague from 25 to 28 August 2015, is an invitation to engage with these fields of inquiry.
What is the current panorama on inequalities of health and healthcare in our European countries? How far can these be seen as a direct consequence of “economic and political crises”? To what extent are they a broader manifestation of global processes of political, social and cultural changes? Are there other trends helping to explain the widening gap in health and healthcare?
What are the actual life stories of persons experiencing inequalities in health and health care and global political, social and cultural changes in health care in different parts of Europe? What effects exert such inequalities and global changes on democracy? How communities and individuals are responding to them? What forms of citizenship are arising on the field of health and healthcare in such a context?
How should we study them, what novel and innovative theories and methods are called for?
What ethical issues arise?
The RN16 Sociology of Health calls for papers that apply the sociological imagination to address the issues of differences and social inequalities in health of contemporary (European) societies and in the related domains of health care (covering both physical and mental health and wellbeing) and public health.
1.2. Specific themes
1.2.1. Session Title: The impact of gender, class and ethnicity on end of life experiences
Session Organizer: Ana Patrícia Hilário
End of life experiences within sociological research have been described as largely undifferentiated. Glenny’s Howarth (2007) paper ‘Whatever happened to social class? An examination of the neglect of working class cultures in the sociology of death’ drew attention to the fact that sociological literature has privileged middle-class understandings of end of life over other understandings. Seven years have passed since the date of its publication and few scholars have provided insights on how class influences end of life experiences. The ways in which these experiences are shaped by gender and ethnicity have also not been given sufficient attention. There is the need to recognise and acknowledge diversity amongst the dying and the dying process. We therefore invite contributions, whether theoretical or empirical, that explores the interplay of class, gender and ethnicity within end of life experiences.
1.2.2. Session title: Sociological perspectives on Obesities: understandings, interventions and practices
Session organizer: Kàtia Lurbe I Puerto
This session invites contributions that will explore individual’s subjectivities and embodied experiences and will revisit lay and professional understandings of obesity’s aetiology, causes, consequences and caretaking. It also welcomes research bringing new socio-anthropological insights on dieting, weight loss practice and bariatric surgery. Moreover it aims to interrogate the political dimensions of obesity, namely to discuss on the ideological content underlying current public health programs seeking to tackle the so-called “obesity epidemic”.
1.2.3. Session Title: Ethnic minorities in Europe: health inequalities and policy challenges.
Session Organizers: Angela Genova & Micol Pizzolati
Ethnic minority groups in Europe often present higher risk of health inequalities with respect to the women and men in the native population. This is due to living and working conditions, vulnerable socio-economic status, and to the multiple discriminations they face in relation to their gender and ethnicity. In the context of austerity and welfare reform processes in European countries, health inequalities for ethnic minority groups are at risk of increase.
The physical and mental health conditions of ethnic minority groups and their health needs are strongly determined by the relationship that arises between the society of the majority and ethnic minority group themselves. On the one hand there is their background, shaping the way they look at the society of the majority and reflecting their culture of origin, their life experiences, and also their expectations. On the other, there is the system of the majority and its policies, regulations, services, governance models and capacity to acknowledge and address their health needs from an integrated policy perspective. It is the juxtaposition between these two actors, and the overall bulk of their interrelations, that contributes to determine the health inequalities suffered by ethnic minority groups in Europe.
We invite contributions discussing ethnic minority health inequalities in the context of welfare challenges in Europe focusing on the following and related aspects:
• The regulatory contexts and access to health care
• The effective provision of services to address the health needs of ethnic minority groups
• The governance and leadership model shaping the health care policy to tackle health inequalities for ethnic minorities groups
• The role of integrated welfare policy and local communities in promoting health for ethnic minorities.
The session invites both internationally comparative papers and national case studies focusing on ethnic minorities health inequalities and welfare challenges.
1.2.3. Session Title: The role of civil society in Central and Eastern European health care systems
Session Organizers: Guido Giarelli, Ellen Annandale, Carlo Ruzza
This is a SPECIAL SESSION OF THE GLOBAL HEALTH SOCIOLOGY NETWORK (ISA RC15, ESA RN16 & ESHMS)
A recent publication of a special issue of Social Science & Medicine (2014) devoted to The role of Civil Society in Healthcare Systems Reforms (vol 123) has been an opportunity to take stock of the involvement of civil society organizations, associations, institutions and groups at various levels (planning, advocacy, delivery, evaluation, etc.) in the governance of healthcare systems around the world. The published articles cover almost all the continents, particularly the European countries: however, it appears significant that none of them concerns the post-socialist societies of Central and Eastern Europe, including Russia and the Balkans. This is quote curious, given the great revival of the discourse of civil society in these countries both before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991. Does this mean that the reconstitution of civil society in these post-totalitarian states has actually stopped? Or does it simply reflect the absence of any significant role played by civil society organizations in their health care arena? We welcome general theoretical reflections concerning definitional issues or conceptual approaches as well as empirical studies on specific health topics in various Central and Eastern European countries (including cross-national research) with the intention of filling the knowledge gap concerning the current situation of civil society in post-socialist health care systems.
2.1. Joint session RN-16 Sociology of Health and Illness & RN-1 Ageing in Europe
Session Organizers: Ana Patrícia Hilário (RN16) & Alexandra Lopes (RN1)
Session Title: The experience of ageing and ill bodies in Mediterranean countries
When theorising illness and ageing we should have in mind that it is in and through our bodies that we first and foremost experience the realities of being ill and growing old. The experience of ill and ageing bodies in turn takes places within social settings that shape that experience and that prescribe the right and the wrong ways of managing the ill and ageing body. There has been given much attention by scholars from the North and Centre of Europe on the experience of ill and ageing bodies. Little is known however about this experience in the Mediterranean. We invite scholars who have explored the topic of ill ageing bodies within a country or regions of the Mediterranean to submit their papers for this joint session. We particularly welcome those who have looked at variations in terms of gender, class and ethnicity as it will be the intention of this joint session to debate what are the communalities but also what are the differentiating factors that shape experiences of ill and ageing bodies in the Southern part of Europe.
2.2. Joint session RN28 Society and Sports & RN16 Sociology of Health and Illness
Session organizers: Oli Williams (RN28), Davide Sterchele (RN28), Kàtia Lurbe I Puerto (RN16) & Micol Pizzolati (RN16)
Session title: Physical Activity, Health & Inequalities
A constant amongst the social and cultural changes we experience in late modernity is that our bodies remain manifestations of difference and inequality. This is particularly true in the cases of physical activity and health. The ways in which physical activities influence people’s health, sense of well-being and quality of life are marked by difference. From the extant divergences in physical cultures along the lines of class, gender, nationality and religion to the stark differences in participation levels between social groups: physical activity, health and inequalities are intimately entwined. This session will focus on how physical activity is involved in the creation, reinforcement, exacerbation and resolution of health inequalities. At the same time, attention will also be given to the ways in which different health conditions influence people’s involvement in physical activity. Therefore, the session offers an opportunity to consider the relationships between physical activity, health and inequalities, and the social consequences of their interplay.
We invite empirical and theoretical papers addressing the following issues and other related topics:
• Physical cultures and their effects on health and (in)equality
• Health inequalities and participation in physical activity
• Promoting health and addressing inequality through physical activity interventions
• The health and physical activity experiences of marginalised groups
2.3. Joint Session RN 16 Sociology of Health and Illness and RN5 Sociology of consumption
Session organizers: Kàtia Lurbe I Puerto (RN16) and Margit Keller (RN5)
Session title: Food consumption, consuming health
A strong link exists between food production and consumption, eating habits and health. A constant amongst the socio-economic and cultural changes we experience in our European societies is that our consumption patterns remain an expression of difference and inequality. This is observable in food consumption, which is also influenced by a wide array of actors holding not only different but differing discourses on “food health” according to their particular interests (industrials, supermarket chains, local producers, nutritionists, public health authorities, consumer and patients associations, media, etc.). This cacophony of health messages and recommendations is widened by the role that Internet is taking in the field of health (online healthcare advice, forum, private clinics websites, personal blogs relating subjective experiences/opinions on health issues, etc. ). This is provoking paradoxical situations and zones of tensions, which may give some insights on how these array of voices on food health are stimulating self-reflexivity (or not) among citizenship, also democratizing (or not), both consumption and health caretaking. In the domain of “food health”, the dominance of medical professionals and public health authorities is indeed more and more contested as healthcare providers diversify their offer of health care and as “patients” are encouraged to be more active on their own health, especially in chronic illness caretaking. Moreover distinct -and sometimes opposing- messages on how to promote health or prevent illness complications coexist among health professionals.
The aim of this joint session is to understand how food consumption is involved in the creation, reinforcement, exacerbation and resolution of health inequalities. At the same time, attention will also be given to the ways in which different health conditions influence people’s eating habits. It will also focus on the ways in the disparity of norms on food health relates to the interest of ill-persons and citizens. Then, the session offers an opportunity to consider the relationships between food, health, difference and inequalities, and the social consequences of their interplay.
We invite empirical, methodological and theoretical papers addressing the following issues and other related topics:
2.4. Joint Session RN23 Sociology of sexuality & RN16 Sociology of health and illness
Session Organizers: Chiara Bertone (RN23) & Micol Pizzolati (RN16)
Session title: Sexual health and the medicalisation of sexuality
The last years have been witnessing a growing interest in sexual health and the medicalization of sexuality, also within sociology, raising issues about changing constructions of femininity and masculinity, life course, risk. This session aims to provide space for critical thinking, unpacking the notion of sexual health, and for reflections on the contribution of sociological perspectives in exploring its intersections with gender, age, social class and other dimensions of social experience.
2.5. Joint session RN16 Sociology of health and illness and RN19 Sociology of professions
Session organizers: Kàtia Lurbe i Puerto (RN16) & Teresa Carvalho (RN19)
Session Title: Citizens and professionals: unequal and diversified healthcare societies.
Inequalities in health and in healthcare are increasing in contemporary Europe. The gap between socio-economic groups is widening. In a context of rising healthcare costs generally and more specifically the global financial and economic crisis, Nation-states throughout Europe have responded by attempting to cut healthcare spending and to devolve responsibility for health from the state on to citizens. In our European socio-culturally diversified societies, the first populations targeted by these cutting politics seem to be deprived migrants and in a more indirect way, poor ethnic minorities. This raises questions about the way in which stakeholders such as citizens and professionals are responding.
The aim of this joint session is to understand how difference and inequalities are influencing professions and professionals in healthcare and the ways in which this relates to the interest of ill-persons and citizens. This session seeks also to discuss to what extent citizens and ill-persons can enter into alliances (with or without professionals) to defend ‘the public good’ and the principle to equal healthcare for all in the context of economic recession and political crisis.
We invite empirical and theoretical papers addressing the following issues and other related topics:
Notes for authors
Authors are invited to submit their abstract either to the general session or any specific session. Please submit only to one session. After abstract evaluation, coordinators will have the chance to transfer papers between sessions where applicable.
Abstracts should not exceed 250 words. Each paper session will have the duration of 1.5 hours. Normally sessions will include 4 papers.
Abstracts must be submitted online to the submission platform, see below. Abstracts sent by email cannot be accepted. Abstracts will be peer-reviewed and selected for presentation by the Research Network; the letter of notification will be sent by the conference software system in early April 2015.
Abstract submission deadline (extended): 15th February 2015
Abstract submission platform: www.esa12thconference.eu
If you have further questions on the conference, please visit the conference website. For further information on the Research Network, please visit www.europeansociology.org.