Toward Comprehensive Conceptualizations of Contemporary Public Health

Participation as the Cornerstone of Appropriate Methodologies

in The International Journal of Social Quality
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  • 1 Independent scholar hgjnijhuis@gmail.com
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Abstract

This article explores the development of appropriate conceptualizations of public health, and, more importantly, adequate practices and methodologies to be applied in today’s societal context. Popular concepts like “positive health,” “comprehensive approaches,” and “participation” represent only specific components of larger complexities. My intention is to come up with useful notions for a more holistic comprehension of public health. First, two strands of reasoning, on which my argument is based, are discussed: (1) interpretations regarding major public health discourses of the past two centuries; (2) critical appraisal of influential societal tendencies (to be able to identify what today is “appropriate”). Then, based on these interpretations, notions are developed regarding ontological, epistemological, and societal aspects of public health. This leads us to the discussion of adequate methodologies for today’s practice of public health. I argue that emancipated participation of citizen communities—organized as cooperatives—ought to be a cornerstone in elaborations of contemporary public health.

Contributor Notes

Harry Nijhuis (MD, MHS, PhD) has worked as Medical Officer of Health in Msambweni, Kenya. In 1980, he was awarded a Master of Health Science degree in Epidemiology and Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University. As a public health expert, he worked the major part of his career with the Municipality of The Hague. From 2003 to 2006, he was appointed Professor of Urban Public Health at the University of Amsterdam. He now works as a volunteer consultant to various projects in Laak, The Hague. E-mail: hgjnijhuis@gmail.com

The International Journal of Social Quality

(formerly The European Journal of Social Quality)

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