Social Theory

A reaction memo introduces key ideas arising in the literature and then provides space for the author to discuss their perspectives on that material. Please write a 750 word (max) reaction memo on the topic of social theory and the right to health.

1. Identify two theoretical approaches from the articles for this week: Williams (2003), Øversveen et al (2017), Schneider & Ingram (1993), Bacchi (2009), Bayer (2008), and Goldberg (2017). (Some of the articles present numerous theories – just choose two theories in total). Succinctly and accurately describe the key concepts in your chosen theories.

2. Discuss how these theories might affect how we think about the distribution of ill-health or the benefits and burdens associated with public health policies.

3. Compare and contrast your chosen theories, including what you think are their respective strengths and weaknesses.

You must make reference to the course literature to support your analysis.


The memo should be in Word format, in 12 point font and 1.5 spaced. Not single, please, it is difficult to read! No pdfs.

Learning objectives for this assignment

Knowledge and understanding

discuss the social drivers of health inequality and their implications for the fulfillment of the right to health

Judgment and approach

reflect upon how social structures such as gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic status can affect priorities in public health research, policy, and interventions

This is a student-led seminar intended to further engage with the ideas in the literature and to assist you in writing your second individual assignment. Student-led seminars are not facilitated by the lecturer, but by the students themselves.

You will be divided into ten groups (pre-assigned)

Your task in this seminar will be to discuss the core readings for this week: Williams (2003), Øversveen et al (2017), Schneider & Ingram (1993), Bacchi (2009), Bayer (2008), Goldberg (2017).

Each individual should make sure you have read the core literature in advance. (You should have read it already by now). Do not expect your colleagues to tell you what the literature says!

Discuss the various theories in the literature: (e.g. social structure, fundamental cause theory, the social construction of target populations, problematizations, and stigma). Do you understand them? Can your colleagues help to explain issues that are unclear?
Compare and contrast the theories. What do they aim to investigate or explain? For more information on Social Theory check on this:

What Is Ethical Judgment?

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