Community health promotion: concepts and lessons from contemporary sociology
Abstract The idealism on behalf of community interventions from The First International Conference on Health Promotion in 1986 today seems to be reduced. This article argues that there has been too little concern with what kind of social and spatial reality the community actually is among health promotion initiators and researchers. Contemporary sociological approaches to the community, emphasizing how collective and personal identities are developed in a situation with massive external and global influences, are introduced. The article advocates a stronger concern with particular local contexts and the inhabitants' self-interpretations, to learn more about whether and how local identities and cultures can be mobilized in health promotion initiatives. This focus contrasts that on education guiding most community health promotion projects. Inspired by contemporary methodological discussions centering around the concept of mechanism and contextual analysis in community studies, the article also criticizes the quasi-experimental research designs involved in many community health promotion projects.
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