Social Theory & Health

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 261–284 | Cite as

A tale of two diseases: Discourses on TB, HIV/AIDS and im/migrants and ethnic minorities in the United Kingdom

Original Article


Ethnicity and migrant-related categories in health reporting constitute a discursive practice in knowledge production on infectious diseases such as TB and HIV/AIDS. These categories are bound up with the ascription of identities and are a product of unique socio-historical factors. We use a sociology of knowledge approach to discourse analysis (SKAD), to examine the categories used in TB and HIV/AIDS health reporting in the UK and the discourses on im/migrants, ethnic minorities and infectious disease in which they are embedded. The interpretative analysis shows that the ‘order of knowledge’ instituted by these discourses is historically contingent and that common interpretative patterns in the discourses are of im/migrants and ethnic minority groups as being ‘a risk’ and ‘at risk’ of infectious diseases. However, the dominance of these patterns varies according to the disease. While TB has consistently been constructed since the 1960s as a disease of immigration, with im/migrants and ethnic minorities being more of ‘a risk’ to the nation’s health, HIV/AIDS has been more explicitly linked to the new public health and notions of these groups’ vulnerability. We consider the implications of these discourses in relation to the current TB control strategy and the constitution of knowledge on TB/HIV co-infection.


classification discourse analysis ethnic minorities HIV/AIDS immigrants tuberculosis 



The “Changing Categories” project was funded by a three-year research Grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) to Hella von Unger (UN 263/4-1).


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Penelope Scott
    • 1
  • Hella von Unger
    • 1
  • Dennis Odukoya
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of SociologyLudwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) MunichMunichGermany

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