Department for Health

A fair and vibrant society

Our research addresses power and inequality. It recognises that individual experiences of health, illness, wellbeing and active embodiment are inextricably linked with rapidly changing social, economic, political and cultural contexts and contributes to the development of vibrant, democratic societies.

One of the most pressing global challenges today concerns how we understand and respond to the complex issue of social inequality. Individual experiences of health, illness, wellbeing and active embodiment are inextricably linked with rapidly changing social, economic, political and cultural contexts.

Our research contributes to the development of vibrant, democratic societies where issues of power and inequality are critically examined through interdisciplinary social science perspectives.

Researchers in this group are engaged in a transformative research agenda that is informed by critical questions about the operation of power, effects of inequality and possibilities for social change. We aim to develop insight and impact with respect to the social, economic, political and environmental processes that shape the contexts of active living, health and quality of life (leisure, sport development, tourism, education and consumption).

Drawing upon innovative methodologies our projects engage with issues of social justice and citizen voice, social actors and policy change, as well as cultural representations and technological change within local and global communities.

Critical perspectives on identity, community and health experiences

Fair and vibrant societies are intrinsically dynamic environments in which social meanings and values are subject to constant change and adjustment. Our research creates a space in which the social and political meaning of identity, formations of community, and framing of health and illness can be explored and critiqued.

This process can illuminate examples of sensitive and inclusive social and health practice, while also revealing injustice and exclusion in local, national and global contexts. Critical research can inform alternative ways of thinking about opportunities to support diverse groups in society – for example, those with mental ill health or physical disability, the elderly or the very young, migrant populations or those with long-term pain.

Examples of our research 

Innovative knowledge and social change

Our research supports the development and maintenance of fair and vibrant societies by contributing to innovations in social and health research and practice. We develop new research methods and theoretical frameworks to push the boundaries of discipline-based knowledge. We innovate and engage creatively with health research technologies, questions of embodiment and nature-culture relations.

We borrow methods and theories from different disciplines to inform health research and advance our research impacts. In doing so, our research seeks to achieve social change through critical pedagogy, identifying the limits and possibilities of policy and transforming health practices within professional and public culture.

Examples of our research 

Institutions, power and health

Our work is informed by the underlying premise that health is socially determined and subject to structural and powerful influences that shape individual lives. Political, cultural, educational, corporate, environmental and health-related institutions and societal norms all exert influence on opportunities for health and citizen participation. They also influence the capacity and commitment of societies to facilitate democratic processes, ‘health for all’ and ‘health mainstreaming’, which embody the concept of a fair and vibrant society.

Our research explores the complex relationships between social life, health and inequalities, renders them visible and challenges society to be more vigilant and cognisant of sociocultural forces which either negatively or positively affect health and social wellbeing.

Examples of our research