Health & Wellbeing

To join this network, click here. Note: All Memberships in CES Research Networks are open for CES individual members in good standing.

Health is a major political, cultural and societal issue across Europe. While health and illness have, of course, always been a part of the human experience, the epidemiological transition from infectious, deadly diseases to the increased burden of chronic and mental health problems, has put various pressures and constraints on policy makers. Indeed, across Europe, health represents one of the most expensive domains of social policy, and a core objective of the welfare state. The fiscal pressures driven by changing population health are well known, but cutting back on healthcare has proven challenging given public support for high quality health care. 

The provision of health care is without a doubt important, yet health and illness are even more fundamentally shaped by the inequalities we find in society. Policymakers, academics and the public alike have raised concerns about rising income inequality, and various groups that often have been silenced in society have risen up and demanded citizenship rights that include health as a human right. This dovetails with intellectual currents in social epidemiology and demography that illustrate how everyday social life is the number one driver of population health – far more important in fact than health behavior or genetic predispositions. For example, the fundamental cause theory of health shows us that as long as we will have societal inequalities we will have health inequalities. 

Issues of health, illness and healing lie at the heart of understanding the lives of Europeans in the 21st century. While the network will be inclusive in terms of what kind of health research members engage in, some of the issues we view as critical are: health inequalities, health policy, mental health, social provision of health care, health services utilization, the relationship between the health system and the broader welfare system, and health professions. Of course, each can be studied individually, but we are particularly interested in bringing together a community of scholars engaged in understanding the interlinkages between various areas, for example, the relationship between health policy and health inequalities. 

Across Europe and beyond, health is one of the major issues on the minds of scholars, policymakers and the public. A focus on health has historically been missing from CES, but it is clear that it fits neatly with areas already well-covered by the CES, including the focus on migration and changing population composition, gender and spolitical systems, culture, and inequality. In addition, a focus on health aligns well with the multi-disciplinary goals of CES, and we envision exciting opportunities to collaborate with other networks, including the political economy and welfare network, the immigration network and the gender and sexuality network. 

The network will gather scholars that are engaged in health research, broadly defined. Health is one of the major issues studied by academic disciplines already well represented in the CES, including sociology, political science, anthropology, and history. It also offers an opportunity for interdisciplinary engagement, including the large fields of demography and public health. Therefore, we view the network as an opportunity to build on existing strenghts and topics well covered by CES and to bring in new scholars who would not have viewed CES as an academic home. 

Co-Chairs: Sigrún Ólafsdóttir, University of Iceland,
                  Jason Beckfield,  Harvard University,