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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Completed Projects

Revitalising the Health Equity Agenda, ESRC Seminar Series

A research project of the Department of Sociology.


Inequalities in health are the focus of considerable research and debate in social sciences. Recent evidence demonstrates inequalities are widening and governments, local authorities, user groups and the public are grappling with evidence and options for action. The aim of this series is to address the need for renewed action and to revitalise policy, practice, and academic work on inequalities in health.

The report of the World Health Organization's Commission on Social Determinants of Health (2008) offered arguments for (i) an explicitly normative commitment to advancing health equity; (ii) a focus on the influence of macro-scale economic and social processes and policy choices on socially patterned differences; and (iii) advancing health equity through policies and interventions outside the health sector. Thus whilst data on inequalities are plentiful and social science offers a number of explanations, in these years of economic recession and austerity policies action appears to be stagnating. How might social science research be supported to reinvigorate potential plans for action?


We propose to do this in a seminar series that has three main objectives:

  • Knowledge creation and capacity building in social sciences and beyond
  • Policy and practice exchange and collaborations
  • Dissemination of findings along with plans to sustain debates through web based and social media


The series comprises three one-day mini-conferences and six smaller, half-day seminars.


Dissemination plans include:

  • The most lasting output will be academic publications in journals such as Social Science & Medicine, Sociology of Health and Illness, Critical Social Policy, Evidence and Policy and
  • Journal of Public Health, which provide resources for the broader social science and user community. We envisage a special issue or sections in journals and at least one edited book given the interest in this topics across academe, policy and practice networks.
  • The Sociology of Health and Illness Study Group of the British Sociological Association will offer opportunities for cross referral and networking, including their on-line newsletter, regional and national meetings and conferences.
  • All participants will be able to take forward ideas from the series into future academic conferences, practitioner fora and their day-to-day work.
  • Summary reports of each event will be written by event organisers. These will be accessible for broad readership and posted on the website, along with presentations and other materials from the seminars.
  • Longer term plan is to work towards establishment of a virtual health equity network (HEN).


Follow this link for information about each Seminar Series Event. 


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