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The Politics of Assets Based Public Health

Author: Lynne Friedli

This paper reflects on the theories of public health that lie behind the discourse of assets (for example real wealth), together with some of the reasons for, and consequences of, its popularity and influence, notably in Scotland.

It is a paradox of recent epidemiology that as material inequalities grow, so the pursuit of non-material explanations for health outcomes proliferates. At one level, a greater recognition of psycho-social factors has deepened the understanding of the societal determinants of health, the links between mental and physical health and the social nature of human need. 

Too often however, psycho-social factors are abstracted from the material realities of people’s lives and function as an alternative to addressing questions of economic power and privilege and their relationship to the distribution of health. The growing influence of salutogenesis and asset-based approaches is one example of this trend.

The publisher is Routledge.

Lynne Friedli (2012): 'What we've tried, hasn't worked': the politics of assets based public health in Critical Public Health © Taylor Francis.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.