Introducing Section 3

Groups and peoples

Authored by: Jamie Pearce , Gavin J. Andrews , Valorie A. Crooks

Routledge Handbook of Health Geography

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138098046
eBook ISBN: 9781315104584
Adobe ISBN:


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A recurrent theme in contemporary health geography has been to document and explain the stark social and spatial inequities in health outcomes, experiences and behaviors observed across the world. The gradients in health within and between nation states, regions and cities emerged as a key topic in Section 1 of this book. There is also an abundance of work concerned with inequalities in health between populations differentiated by their demographic characteristics, social identity or position in society (Aldridge et al., 2017; Smith, Bambra and Hill, 2016). Unsurprisingly, it is almost always the most disempowered, disenfranchised and disadvantaged groups that are habitually shown to have the poorest health outcomes and experiences across a range of indicators. This concern with social inequities is consistent with many of the fundamental concerns of other human geography sub-disciplines, and indeed across the social sciences. There is a long tradition in human geography of studying how marginalized, disempowered and potentially vulnerable groups are represented and how this depiction shapes their material circumstances and life chances. It is therefore unsurprising that health geographers have often focused their attention on particular groups of people who, by virtue of their position in society, have been materially disadvantaged in multiple ways, including related to their health and well-being. For decades now, researchers have sought to understand how people and groups identifying, or identified, in particular ways have distinct health-related experiences and outcomes (Curtis and Rees Jones, 1998; Smyth, 2008). Health geographers have lent their expertise to these deliberations through scrutinizing how space and place are implicated. The aim of this section is to systematically interrogate these issues by synthesizing the international research on, and with, various people and groups that have received the attention of health geographers in recent years.

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