The Social Construction of Public Health and Wellbeing


Key questions

  • How is public health socially and culturally constructed through the a) discourses, b) practices, and c) values of individuals, institutions, and cultures in the United States and elsewhere?
  • In what ways does the social and cultural construction of wellbeing influence health-related attitudes, behaviors, and policies?
  • How can we critically engage with the “public” in health practices to build more equitable systems in our world?

This broad initiative brings together a transdisciplinary group of researchers at Knology to understand and untangle the complex social and cultural factors that condition attitudes, behaviors, and policies related to public health. It asks questions about how wellbeing is defined through the lens of “public health” at the individual and group levels. How do different interpretations of public health influence health practices and the overall well-being of all members of society? And how can we extend what we learn about individual wellness pursuits to the social and political domains of social policy?

This initiative is especially geared toward understanding how individuals and groups around the world envision their relationship to public health and how this understanding impacts the health-related decisions they make. We want to understand whether individuals who live in societies without an integrated public health system envision health as a public enterprise and to what end a “public” understanding of health enables individuals and societies to confront challenges to their wellbeing.