Health outcomes in the U.S. vary dramatically as a function of race and ethnicity. The purpose of this course is to address the possible pathways by which such disparities in health status arise at different stages in the life cycle. The course will highlight research that explores this issue from social, behavioral and psychological perspectives, as well as ideas about the meaning of race and ethnicity in American society. Students will be asked to develop their own research ideas that might help illuminate the nature of specific health disparities.
The course will focus on understanding the social determinants of health. Readings and discussion center on understanding the theories, measurement and empirical evidence related to specific social conditions and experiences such as socioeconomic position, discrimination, social networks and support, work conditions, ecological level neighborhood and community social conditions, and social and economic policies. Biological and psychological mechanisms by which social conditions influence health will be discussed.
This course critically examines the health status of the poor, and of African Americans and other socially disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups in the US. Attention will be focused on the patterned ways in which the health of these groups is embedded in the social, cultural, political, and economic contexts, and arrangements of US society.