Shifting Paradigms in Public Health

From Holism to Individualism

  • Vijay Kumar Yadavendu

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Vijay Kumar Yadavendu
    Pages 1-8
  3. Philosophical Historiography of Public Health

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 9-9
    2. Vijay Kumar Yadavendu
      Pages 37-69
  4. Methodological Individualism in Social Sciences

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 95-95
    2. Vijay Kumar Yadavendu
      Pages 115-142
  5. Structure, Power and Theory of Health Inequalities

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 143-143
    2. Vijay Kumar Yadavendu
      Pages 145-169
    3. Vijay Kumar Yadavendu
      Pages 171-182
    4. Vijay Kumar Yadavendu
      Pages 183-187
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 189-203

About this book


This transdisciplinary volume outlines the development of public health paradigms across the ages in a global context and argues that public health has seemingly lost its raison d’être, that is, a population perspective. The older, philosophical approach in public health involved a holistic, population-based understanding that emphasized historicity and interrelatedness to study health and disease in their larger socio-economic and political moorings. A newer tradition, which developed in the late 19th century following the acceptance of the germ theory in medicine, created positivist transitions in epidemiology. In the form of risk factors, a reductionist model of health and disease became pervasive in clinical and molecular epidemiology.

The author shows how positivism and the concept of individualism removed from public health thinking the consideration of historical, social and economic influences that shape disease occurrence and the interventions chosen for a population. He states that the neglect of the multifactorial approach in contemporary public health thought has led to growing health inequalities in both the developed and the developing world. He further suggests that the concept of ‘social capital’ in public health, which is being hailed as a resurgence of holism, is in reality a sophisticated and extended version of individualism.

The author presents the negative public policy consequences and implications of adopting methodological individualism through a discussion on AIDS policies. The book strongly argues for a holistic understanding and the incorporation of a rights perspective in public health to bring elements of social justice and fairness in policy formulations.


Class differences in mortality Dominant paradigms in public health Holistic perspectives in epidemiology Individualism in AIDS policy Individualism in psychology Individualism in sociology of knowledge Medical sociology and health Medicine and health in mythology Methodological individualism in public health Origins of modern epidemiology Philosophical origins of public health Philosophical roots of modern medicine Psychology and health Rights and justice in public health Social capital and health inequalities The Black Report on health inequality

Authors and affiliations

  • Vijay Kumar Yadavendu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMagadh University Bodh GayaBakhtiyarpur, PatnaIndia

Bibliographic information