2014-2015, Bachelor European Public Health  (English) 

In Europe mother and child care is an important policy field, for the health of children is considered an important factor in the human capital of Europe and the social and economic development of Europe. Especially now populations are aging rapidly, children are an important priority of public health. Not only infant mortality, but also obesity, diabetes, injuries and child abuse are a concern of European policy makers.

Mackenbach, the editor of the European Journal of Public Health speaks of ’Europe’s precious children’ (vol. 15, no.6, 555-556). In line with this, the differences between European countries are concern as well: inequalities between countries seem to have a great effect on infants and children. However, this public health focus on children is not entirely new: initiatives for public care for children in Europe have developed from the mid 19th century. The main institution engaged in the development of these practices of care for children and youth were not so much politics and law nor the market, but the professions and the social sciences.

In this course we will explore the impact this institutional context on mother and child care in Europe. How did the social sciences and the professions construct new norms and practices for health, disease and responsability. How are, even in the era of evidence based public health, science, politics and the social entangled in practises of mother and child care?

To explore these questions we will study cases like for instance the prevention of obesity, the EU strategy on prevention of perinatal death, hospital and home birth, the rise of ADHD diagnoses in children. To analyze these cases we will use theoretical work of sociologists Norbert Elias and Abram de Swaan, Michel Foucault, and Geoff Bowker and Lee Star.    

Key literature

  • Mennel, S. (1992) Norbert Elias. An Introduction. Oxford, Blackwell.  
  • Wouters, C. (2011) How civilizing processes continued: towards an informalization of manners and a third nature personality, in: N.Gabriel, S.Mennell (eds.) Norbert Elias and figurational research: processual thinking in sociology. Wiley/Blackwell. 
  • Swaan, A. de. (1988) In care of the state. Health care, education and welfare in Europe and the United States in the modern era. Oxford University Press. 
  • Foucault, M. (1979) Discipline and Punishment. The birth of the prison. New York, Vintage Books .  
  • Bowker, G.C. & S.L.Star (2000) Sorting things out. Classification and its consequences.  Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT Press.