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Theories of Practice and Public Health

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course


Recent work in critical public health has challenged prevailing conceptions of health behaviour that underlie much public health research, policy, and intervention (Blue et al. 2016). This work calls for a paradigmatic shift from a public health that is focussed on the health behaviours of individuals and their ‘social contexts’ to one that is concerned with the emergence, persistence, and decline over time of the social practices that make up everyday life and that have varying implications for health and wellbeing (see also, Cohn et al 2014; Hitchings and Latham 2016). Such a shift calls for public health research that emphasises and investigates the material and symbolic elements of such practices (Maller 2014), of the times and spaces involved in this kind of situated activity (Blue 2016), and of how such features emerge and permit the co-evolution of practices and hence more and less healthy ways of living and consuming. The aim of this workshop is to connect, consolidate, and capitalise on emerging interest and work in this area and to develop a new agenda for public health research and practice that begins with theories of practice. It will draw together expertise and experience from practice theorists and from scholars of consumption, from public health researchers and practitioners to begin to shape this new agenda for public health. The workshop will ask: what does it mean for public health research to shift its attention from the constraints and capacities of the individual to the constitution of everyday social life? What are the scales of analysis and the units of enquiry involved? What kinds of methods and approaches are required? And how should public health cope with the complexity of understanding the multiple and interwoven histories and geographies of social life? New questions also emerge for practice theorists when considering issues of public health, for example, and most importantly, how to attend to variation and the strong class gradients associated with population health? This workshop will investigate some of the most challenging practices for public health including eating, drinking, smoking, having sex, and exercising to extend new concepts, to devise new methodological approaches, and to formulate new opportunities for shaping a new kind of agenda in public health policy, practice, and research.

Event (Workshop)

TitleTheories of Practice and Public Health
LocationLancaster University
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Degree of recognitionInternational event