Thursday, 20 December 2012

OK, I said I was going to start blogging once I had retired so here goes. I have no idea what I am doing really but that isn't unusual.

I hope to use this space mostly to talk about life course and longitudinal studies. Here is the URL for the ESRC International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Health and Society:

I also said I would try to write a book about social 'determinants' (don't really like that word) of health across the life course. As I go along I will use the blog to share the interesting new papers I come across in a bit more detail than I can do in Twitter.

Interesting meeting today with some ICLS colleagues where the issue of 'confounding' came up. We agreed that this term is often a label that acts as an alternative to thought. Particularly unhelpful in the context of designing a lifecourse study. I remember the days when smoking was regarded as a 'confounder' of the relationship between social position and health. Sally Macintyre put us straight on that rather a long time ago and I don't think anyone would say that now (would they? Please not). I think I rather shocked colleagues by saying we should not use the term 'lower class' when referring to human beings; I think this is like calling people 'untouchables', 'Taigs' (this will mean something to Scots and Irish readers) or 'niggers'. 'Low class' is not a scientific term, apart from being insulting it also confuses our ability to think analytically about health inequality. You would not find sociologists like John Goldthorpe talking about 'low class people voting Labour', or Pierre Bourdieu talking about 'low class people liking music hall'.


  1. Lovely first post!

    I think it's excruciating when I read studies in which investigators refer to 'race' as confounder. Putting aside the epistemological concerns as to whether this is in fact a valid depiction, given the robust relationships between race and health, I have difficulty understanding the conditions under which it makes good policy sense to "control" for race.

    I like Troy Duster's comment (paraphrase): 'Why are we so interested in controlling for the experience of being black in America?'

    I look forward to more blog posts!

  2. Looking forward to more posts. I have just started blogging myself. I wish you the best of luck.

  3. Mel, thank you for starting to blog. I used to feel that 140 characters are often not sufficient for you.