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Unhealthy Societies: The Afflictions of Inequality 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0415092357
ISBN-10: 0415092353
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Unhealthy Societies: The Afflictions of Inequality + The Impact of Inequality: How to Make Sick Societies Healthier + The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'Unhealthy Societies is much more than another book on inequalities in health - it provides an elegantly argued treatise on the problems facing contemporary societies ... It is a methodologically sophisticated, yet inherently readable book ... This scholarly and insightful book is recommended reading for all students of sociology and economics, as well as health policy-makers and politicians.' - Times Higher Educational Supplement

'Essential reading for medical sociologists, it is thought provoking, stimulating and accessible.' - Medical Sociology News

'For those interested in a saner, fairer, safer and healthier society, Richard Wilkinson's book, which merits more than one reading, is potentially epoch-making...sane, humane, compelling counter-arguments to Thatcherism and the 'me, now, society'.' - 'For those interested in a saner, fairer, safer and healthier society, Richard Wilkinson's book, which merits more than one reading, is potentially epoch-making...sane, humane, compelling counter-arguments to Thatcherism and the 'me, now, society'.'

'Fascinating ... it is impossible not to be impressed by the sheer scale of the enterprise undertaken by Richard Wilkinson, both in the magnitude of the question addressed and the extraordinary diversity of evidence he brings to bear on the issue ... a work of major significance.' - Sociology of Health and Illness

'One of the key social scientific texts of the decade ... a treasure trove of useful information, especially about the major consequences of income disparity in a community or society. Politicians, physicians and social scientists should somehow be required to read it and tested for comprehension ... should be required in every professional and social science educational programme. It's impact will be profound for years to come ... the importance of this book cannot be overstated.' - Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology

'Unhealthy Societies is a challenging and refreshing book. By looking at health from a quality of life rather than a strictly medical angle it enables readers to examine health in its broadest and most intricate social context.' - Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths Newsletter

'The message of this book is exactly what the country needs to hear ... an engaging passionate work of social responsibility ... a timely and exciting book.' - The Friend

'I have no hesitation in recommending this book to those working and training in public health, especially those with an interest in the psycho-social causes of illness.' - Professor David R Phillips, in the Journal of Public Health Medicine

About the Author

Richard G. Wilkinson is Senior Research Fellow at The Trafford Centre for Medical Research, University of Sussex.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (November 21, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415092353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415092357
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,746,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Wilkinson has played a formative role in international research and his work has been published in 10 languages. He studied economic history at the London School of Economics before training in epidemiology and is Professor Emeritus at the University of Nottingham Medical School and Honorary Professor at University College London. Kate Pickett is a Senior Lecturer at the University of York and a National Institute for Health Research Career Scientist. She studied physical anthropology at Cambridge, nutritional sciences at Cornell and epidemiology at Berkeley before spending four years as an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Karl Hess on October 11, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unhealthy Societies - the new, new pediatrics
Unhealthy Societies: The Afflictions of Inequality, by Richard Wilkinson, is a clear, multifaceted description of research into the patterns of disease, violence, and death between and within societies.
Wilkinson reviews the global patterns of disease and death historically, where the trend is down. Countries which have attained a modest degree of affluence have gone through the `epidemiological transition' where the primary causes of death are no longer infectious, but the `diseases of affluence' the degenerative diseases He then reviews changes between societies, showing that some have large divergence in death rates as a function of income and that others do not. The difference is a function of the spread of income within the society. This pattern applies to the states of the US as well as among nations. . Above a certain level, the prime factors which determine health are relative, not absolute income.
He then cites data on the differences in death rates within societies as a function of income. For example, British civil servants in the lowest income categories have 4 times the rate of death from heart disease as those in the highest income categories. This pattern is shown to apply to homicides, and reading failure as well as a large number of medical conditions.
Another chapter deals with the level of cooperation in human societies in prehistory, versus the atomization and Hobbesian conflict, which is seen as normal and inevitable today. He also reviews studies which show that much of what we call human nature has been shown to be inference from our own behavior and is very sensitive to changes in situation.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Toronto Resident on August 26, 1997
Format: Paperback
In Unhealthy Societies: the Afflictions of Inequality, Richard Wilkinson lays down the gauntlet to all those who profess to be concerned about the health of societies and those who live in these societies.

He carefully outlines the research that indicates that it is not the wealth of nations that determines health, but rather how this wealth is distributed. He also describes the processes by which economic inequality becomes translated into societal malaise and societal disintegration.

Using many examples from the United States and the United Kingdom, he documents that states and areas that have relatively greater inequality of wealth show greater signs of societal disintegration involving higher crime rates, poorer health, and greater incidence of violence.

Unhealthy Societies: the Afflictions of Inequality suggests that health education and health promotion approaches that ignore broader social issues are doomed to failure. He also suggests that societies that ignore these issues are also destined for increased malaise.

The book should be required reading for health workers, policy and welfare analysts, and government officials and politicians. It should be especially useful as a text in the health and social sciences.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Unhealthy Societies is a terribly ambitious book. Only superficially is it about public health...really, what Wilkinson is trying to get at is something altogether more profound, he goes for the age old philosophical questions on what makes a society good and decent and just. Wilkinson bites off a heck of a lot, and chews it masterfully.
Wilkinson defends his thesis with a mountain of empirical evidence and not a little bit of style. His gift for elegant and persuasive prose makes his complex reasoning seem simple, almost commonsensical. The end result is a truly refreshing rationale for a sort of democratic socialism, one that is neither dogmatic nor ideological, but rather is based on social fact, in the Durkheimian sense.
In Richard Wilkinson we have a rare gift: a social scientist who is careful with his evidence yet is not afraid to take on truly transcendental questions. It's a shame his research isn't more widely read and cited.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. Reid on June 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
It is not the wealth in America that matters for health, quality of life and wise thinking. What matters in a blessed society is how the wealth is distributed. Even in a very wealthy country as in America, uneven and idiotic distribution of the wealth is leading to corruption of CEOs and large corporations, disintegration of health care delivery, and unbelievable amounts of misery in families where husband and wife have to both work to survive. It used to be that one spouse worked outside the home and the other spouse worked inside the home available for the raising of children. With all of the wealth in America, the healthcare delivery system is one of the most inefficient and corrupt delivery systems one could even imagine. Without good preventice and curative healthcare for Americans the country will fail and it will be a completely avoidable tragedy caused by raw greed. By far the number one priority for America should be quality healthcare for all Americans not based on social standing, who you know, or the money in your bank account.
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2 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A. Redondo on July 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is just typical of the "Me, Me, Me" society who wants everyone to support them instead of taking responsibility for their own lives. See my review of "Uninsured in America: Life & Death in the Land of Opportunity" for more details.
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