Teaching social inequalities in health: Barriers and opportunities

Carles Muntaner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines some of the main threats and new opportunities encountered by teachers of social inequalities in health in contemporary academia. Focusing mostly on the recent US and European experiences, I suggest that lay world views legitimating social inequalities are often in conflict with explanations arising from social epidemiology and medical sociology. The dominance of medicine in public health, through its often implicit assumptions about the biological determinants of human behaviour, is also identified as a barrier to teaching social inequalities in health. Educational elitism, which restricts higher education to members of the upper middle class, is identified as another barrier to teaching social inequalities in health. On the other hand, teachers in this field can benefit from a recent growth of empirical studies during the last decade aimed at understanding the social determinants of health inequalities. Finally, I suggest that familiarity with current critical scholarship within public health, as well as the use of techniques developed by sociologists to teach social stratification, can be valuable resources for teaching social inequalities in health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-165
Number of pages5
JournalScandinavian Journal of Public Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Jul

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • education
  • elitism
  • epidemiology
  • ethics
  • social inequalities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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