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Chapter 5

HLST 1010 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: False Consciousness, Social Reality, Epidemiological Method

Health Studies
Course Code
HLST 1010
Dennis Raphael

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Chapter 5
Researching Health: Knowledge Paradigms, Methodologies, and Methods
October 24, 14
How is knowledge about health illness, and health care issues created?
How to identify sources of health and illness, and best care?
Knowledge Paradigm set of basic beliefs about knowledge and how it is created. Perspectives on what
constitutes knowledge about the world and how we come to aquire it.
oSets parameters or limits on what can be known
oFamilies of knowledge paradigms
Knowledge Paradigms in Health Studies
Approaches to research and inquiry in sociology that are helpful in understanding health and illness
Knowledge is advanced though observation of the OBSERVABLE and measurable
Quantitative research methods
View phenomena at the individual level
Emphasis on experimental methods, surveys
Focus on individual characteristics and how they interact with environmental events to create health and illness
Idealism- constructivism, interpretivism
Challenge positivist approach
Peoples ideas, understandings differ among individuals
Qualitative research methods
Social reality understood through meanings individuals place on events
Purpose of inquiry is to identify MULTIPLE REALITIES
Individual is an active creator of the world
Emphasis on ethnographic methods where individual understandings of the world are made clear
Focus on lived experiences of people and how these shape ones experience of health and illness
Realism – structuralism, materialism
how economic and political structures interact with different classes (workers, managers, owners)
Reality exists independently of individuals construction
Interpretations that individuals have of events are shaped by societal structures
Identifying underlying societal structure that influence events
Concern with meanings and how they are shaped by societal structures is manifested in the idea of “false
consciousness” by which individuals misunderstand their world
Emphasis on identifying social structures that produce health/illness and individuals understandings of their
Range of research methods; critical social analysis
Related to political economy and human rights approaches to understand health and illness
Components of a Knowledge Paradigm
Overlapping components illuminate how knowledge can be generated in health studies
Epidemiology – positivist
Sociology - varies
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Political economy- realist
Human rights - realist
Ontology refers to a paradigm’s core belief system about the nature of the world
What are exactly are the aspects of the world that we can come to know?
What are specific aspects of this world that are worth knowing?
key aspect of how knowledge is acquired and understood
How the inquirer wishes to understand health, illness, and health care knowledge’s about these matters through
Is important knowledge best gained through the methodology of objective observation and experimentation as
developed and applied in the natural sciences of biology, chemistry, and physics or through other methodologies?
Positivism and epidemiological approach related with methods employed- observation and experimentation
Knowledge from personal experiences of affected people – interpretivism- understanding ppls lives through
shared observations, interviews
Realism- most important knowledge can be gained by identifying societal structures that shape distribution of
economic, political resources
oPolitical economy perspective
Kinds of research tools
Positivist: experimental methods, focusing on observation, identification of cause-effect relationships
oEpidemiological approach
Idealist: researchers interacting with subjects to examine lived experiences
oMeanings people have of events in their world and how it shapes their behaviour
oData in words, themes, ideas
oSociological thought
Realist: critical analyses of organization of society and its effects on health care and determinants of health
oCritical reasoning, examine societal structures, institutions
oPolitical economy approach
Human rights approach: legal, ethical analyses
Determining the Value of these Approaches and Paradigms
Knowledge paradigms help shape forms of inquiry
Positivist: objective qualities of immediate environments
Interpretivist: peoples understandings
Realism: societal structures and effects
Quantitative Methods in Health Studies
Measurement and statistical analyses of world
Generate knowledge in epidemiological, sociological, political economy, human rights approaches
Epidemiological Methods
Distribution and isolation of the causes of disease
Experimental design, statistical analyses
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