, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 431-432
Date: 19 Apr 2011

Rebuilding bridges: what is the real role of social class in disease occurrence?

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As the focal science for public health, epidemiology has been a large tent supporting diverse activities. The hospital epidemiologist, the cancer trialist, the researcher studying teenage dating violence, and the theorist elaborating epidemic curves all work on different topics using disparate methods, but all of them could and should be comfortable under that one tent. Epidemiology certainly has seen its share of internecine squabbles. These quarrels have generic causes that include noble attempts to differentiate new work directions, to shake up priorities or to motivate constituencies toward new conceptualizations. Some rifts grow from the sincere attempt by some to correct what they see as past mistakes in research direction or problem framing, which may spur defense of long-standing efforts in which considerable time and effort has been invested.

A fractious crowd is sometimes encouraged to patch things over and get along, but it is not entirely clear that such an approach is neces