Critical/Charismatic Ideas and Advocates

  • Katherine Smith
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Science, Knowledge and Policy book series (SKP)


In direct contrast to Chapter 4, this chapter focuses on interviewees who suggested that public health academics ought, instead, to occupy rather more political and critical roles, working as (or with) public health advocates. The notion that academics might function as some kind of political advocates, or activists, does not sit easily with traditional conceptualisations of scientific research, the legitimacy of which rests, at least partially, on an idealised notion of science as value-free, objective and independent of its application beyond the academy. Yet, more advocacy-orientated visions of academic work are gaining increasing currency within public health circles. This is evident in the opening pages of the government-commissioned Marmot Review, for example, where the authors quote the Chilean poet and left-wing politician, Pablo Neruda’s lines, ‘Rise up with me against the organisation of misery’ (Marmot Strategy Team 2010: p. 2). It is also reflected in a recent short essay in the British Medical Journal in which public health scholars Tim Lang and Geoff Rayner argue:

Public health success is as much about imagination as evidence: challenging what is accepted as the so called normal, or business as usual. Public health must regain the capacity and will to address complexity and dare to confront power.

(Lang and Rayner 2012)


Health Inequality Tobacco Control Tobacco Industry Public Health Research Policy Advisor 
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Copyright information

© Katherine Smith 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.University of EdinburghUK

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