Geographic Studies On Health Care And Wellbeing Essay

Geographic Studies On Health Care And Wellbeing Essay

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Geographic studies on health care and wellbeing have often been divisive. Some researchers have primarily been devoted to health structures, examining correlates and predictors or describing patterns in data using sophisticated statistical techniques (Aday & Andersen, 1974; Buor, 2003; Wilson & Rosenberg, 2004); whereas others have focused on psychosocial elements and/or the cognized environment and how they influence or inform the patterns of health care access, usage and behavior (Parr & Philo, 2003; Parr, Philo & Burns, 2004). The task for most emerging health geographers and researchers including myself has been to merge these dichotomized approaches to health studies and social science at large (Hartshorne & Clark, 1962; Lawson & Staeheli, 1990; Clark, Lissel & Davis 2008). Critical realism as a philosophical approach to health studies geography and social sciences accomplishes this task (Sayer 2000, Bhaskar & Danermark, 2006). As a philosophical position critical realism is grounded on core tenet such as: existence of independent social and physical reality, reality is stratified and differentiated, reality is an open system and that structure and agency are integral whole not separate entities (Bhaskar, 1975 cited by Holt-Jensen, 2009; Bhaskar, 1978, 1998 cited by Bergin, Wells & Owen, 2008; Sayer, 2000). These philosophical views help inform my research as health geographer.
Critical realist approach to geography and science for that matter recognizes that physical and social entities have independent existence irrespective of human knowledge or understanding (Clark, Lissel & Davis, 2008; Holt-Jensen, 2009; Sayer, 2015). This critical realist worldview argues that phenomena in the real world that we study as researchers ar...


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... critical realism in acknowledging this existence seeks to caution us against search for the “truth” in our research as such “truth” is conditional rather than absolute (Sayer, 2015). Others have questioned the inadequacy practical methods of critical realism (Pratt, 1995). In contrast critical realism leans on a wide range of research methods depending on our research focus, type and what we hope to learn as social scientist or health researchers (Sayer, 1992, 2000). In conclusion, critical realism as a philosophical position health or geography or social science inquiry help bridge or reconcile the dualism – individuals and structures, nature and social – that have characterized our research (Hartshorne & Clark, 1962; Sayers 2015); and in so doing argues for multiple levels at which to conceptualize and abstract our phenomena of interest (Lawson & Staeheli, 1990).

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