University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Research Conference: Against Health: Resisting the Invisible Morality

Carol Boyd, Institute for Research on Women and Gender, University of Michigan

a 2007 CLOSUP Small Grants Program award

Abstract:
This provocative, public conference examines health policy research along with current state and local health practices. The two-day event not only provides a venue for critical discourse about existing health practices, but also generates new research insights that can be applied to health policy development.

Current definitions of health, healthy and health care have become pervasive in society, often with little consideration or understanding given to the factors that drive these definitions. At a time when the merits of universal health care are still being questioned in the United States, the adequacy of current community health standards are, in many cases, being compromised by factors unrelated to human well being. Entire communities of people - women, gays, lesbians, the disabled, the mentally ill, the overweight, individuals of color - find themselves on the very edge of prevailing health standards. Exploration of research that challenges mainstream perceptions about health has never before occurred in a major conference venue.

The conference explores research that counters the common assumption that health and health care are driven by human need. Research highlighted in the conference exposes how ethnicity, race, social class, sexual orientation, marketing and political influence have become rigid, albeit surreptitious, factors in formulating a definition of health and health care that benefit some while excluding many others.

"Against Health" represents an alternative, interdisciplinary event that explores how some research-based initiatives become embedded in the public health agenda while others are ignored. The conference further explores how this public health agenda is translated into community health care practices that leave large portions of the population vulnerable to the inadequacy of a "Mchealth" system.

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University of Michigan Gateway Ford School Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy