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Feminism Meets the 'New' Epidemiologies: An Appraisal of Antifeminist Biases in Epidemiologic Research on Women's Health

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Inhorn, Marcia, and K.L. Whittle. 2001. "Feminism Meets the 'New' Epidemiologies: An Appraisal of Antifeminist Biases in Epidemiologic Research on Women's Health." Social Science and Medicine, 53(5): 553-567.

This essay explores an alternative paradigm for epidemiology, one which is explicitly informed by a feminist perspective. We intend to expand upon recent critiques and debates within the emergent fields of "critical", "popular", and "alternative" epidemiology to examine how epidemiology's conceptual models — which are meant to contribute to the prevention of social inequalities in health, but may instead reinforce social hierarchies based on gender, race, and class — constrain our understanding of health and disease. Specifically, we examine persistent antifeminist biases in contemporary epidemiological research on women's health. Issues highlighted include: problem definition and knowledge production in women's health; biological essentialization of women as reproducers; and decontextualization and depoliticization of women's health risks. As part of this critique, we include suggestions for an emancipatory epidemiology that incorporates an alternative feminist framework.

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