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Understanding Health Inequalities and JusticeBridging Perspectives for New Conversations$
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Mara Buchbinder, Michele Rivkin-Fish, and Rebecca Walker

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469630359

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469630359.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 25 May 2022

Embodied Inequalities

Embodied Inequalities

An Interdisciplinary Conversation on Oral Health Disparities

(p.137) 5 Embodied Inequalities
Understanding Health Inequalities and Justice

Sarah Horton

Judith C. Barker

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter combines ethnographic and social epidemiological approaches to analyze the causes of Latino children’s high rates of oral disease as well as their cumulative effects. Social epidemiological approaches suggest the complex interplay of biology and social structure at multiple levels in creating health inequalities. How can we use ethnography to operationalize this model, illustrating the varying role of familial, clinical, and sociopolitical contexts in creating farmworker youths’ health inequalities? Moreover, how can social epidemiology heed the insights of ethnography, and what happens when we assign equal truth status to parents’ “local” knowledge and to expert knowledge of epidemiological reports? This chapter serves as a lens both for understanding the roots of farmworker children’s poor oral health and as a thought experiment for considering the provocative methodological and epistemological questions posed by an interdisciplinary dialogue on health inequalities. Using a life course perspective, we examine the way that farmworker young adults’ poor oral health feeds back into a system of social inequality. Using the lens of oral health, this chapter presents a vivid argument for why health inequalities are cause for policy intervention—that is, why they are a matter not only of fairness but also of equity and justice.

Keywords:   Oral health inequalities, Social epidemiology, Ethnography, Latino children, Farmworker youth, Interdisciplinary

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