Social determinants of health: the “social” in question


  • Júlia Arêas Garbois
  • Francis Sodré Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo; Departamento de Serviço Social
  • Maristela Dalbello-Araujo Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo



This article seeks to discuss the vision of the ‘social’ in the field called social determinants of health. For this, bibliographical research was conducted, based on references from the field of human sciences, by authors such as Latour (2012) and Santos (1988). It begins with a general characterization of the field of social determinants of health, especially political and scientific views. Then, it presents the critical elements characterizing paths on the thinking of these authors. The study sought to highlight reductionism increasingly present in the approach to the field of social determinants of health. These reductionisms that ultimately limit further reading about the complexity of life in society and reinforce the commodification and trivialization of life. Santos (1988) notes that, in front of these reductionism, science cannot be merely producing a scientific paradigm, but also a social paradigm - the paradigm of a decent life. The thinking of Latour (2012) brought arguments to rethink the ‘social’ beyond a specific and limited domain of reality, as something always external to the subject and to their own health. The fragmented view of the field of social determinants of health is what we put into analysis and make inquiries as a way to raise future discussions on the topic.


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How to Cite

Garbois, J. A., Sodré, F., & Dalbello-Araujo, M. (2014). Social determinants of health: the “social” in question. Saúde E Sociedade, 23(4), 1173-1182.