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Essay

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Health Is Still Social: Contemporary Examples in the Age of the Genome

  • Timothy H Holtz mail,

    To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:tholtz@igc.org

    X
  • Seth Holmes,
  • Scott Stonington,
  • Leon Eisenberg
  • Published: October 24, 2006
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030419
  • Featured in PLOS Collections

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Is Your Banana Active?

Posted by plosmedicine on 31 Mar 2009 at 00:02 GMT

Author: Susanne mccabe
Position: BSc (Hons) Social Sciences
Institution: No affiliation was given
E-mail: soostevens@hotmail.com
Submitted Date: November 23, 2006
Published Date: November 29, 2006
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

Thank you for your interesting article. I live in S. Wales where one of the founders of Social Medicine, Julian Tudor Hart,carried out the research you mention. Decades later the mines are closed and those who are left suffer high levels of ill health partly due to unemployment and poverty. These areas are still some of the most deprived in Europe and in receipt of European Social Funds. Although J.T. Hart is often quoted as inspirational, few seem to realise that his work carried no great benefit to the people in the mining valleys unfortunately. Small local projects do get set up but on limited funding controlled by academics and politicians who do not live the experience of poverty and do not have long term committments to change. The average wage in UK is said to be UK Pounds 350p.w. The poorest living on 'benefits' survive on 60% of this. Polly Toynbee, social activist points out that the gap between the richest and poorest is widening.

The gap is not only financial. Hierachies in UK ensure that the potential of many people in work is limited by the control others hold over working lives; e.g., Civil Servants have recently been subjected to efficiency drives which are resulting in skilled work being dumbed down into smaller sections which can be handled by lower paid staff and skilled staff being made redundant. One consultant will go down in history for demanding that employees clear their desks of any personal non work related belongings. One was asked whether the banana on his desk 'was active'. That employees can be subjected to such degrading treatment is incredible. The same Civil Servants have been used in the oft quoted 'Whitehall Study' to demonstrate the consequences of working practices which deprive people of respect and autonomy. There are high levels of stress-related illnesses in the Civil Service still.

Today in the UK we are waiting to hear whether the tobacco industry can use loopholes in European law to lower the price of cigaretted from 50 Pounds to 20 Pounds for 200 cigarettes.

Alcohol can be bought by children for the cost of a bottle of 'pop'.

Is it not time for those who have been historically disempowered by groups who have negative influence over their lives, to carry out their own research into the way so called democracies are run?

No competing interests declared.