Project Project
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Comparing Perceptions of Social Inequality: Debates on the prevention of chronic cardiovascular diseases in Germany and Great Britain, 1918-1992

07 2010 - 03 2011
Research Field

The project uses debates on the prevention of chronic cardiovascular diseases to compare perceptions of social inequality in Germany and Great Britain in the 20th century. Thereby, cultural imprinting and historical development of perceptions of inequality as well as their consequences for public health policy shall be analysed. Using a cultural history perspective, an area of historical research on the welfare state which so far has attracted little attention shall be developed and a contribution be made to the history of the European welfare system.

Especially arteriosclerosis, which can lead to heart attack, was already ealry on described as a disease of civilisation. Diseases of civilisation mirror societies’ perceptions of crisis and constitute an exemplary field where norms, values and ideas of social order are being reflected. Perceptions of social inequality mark this field as diseases of civilisation were associated continually with specific conditions of life and work.

Debates on the prevention of chronic cardiovascular diseases will be used as a probe to analyse perceptions of inequality in two countries, which differ both in their health systems and the structures of their welfare system. It will be assumed that debates on prevention were culturally imprinted and negotiated ideas of social order. Also, it is expected to find that perceptions of inequality evident in these debates had an impact on the development of prevention in the 20th century. In this way, the project connects cultural history with the question of the constitution and contours of the modern welfare state.