Silos, visualised: The Tribes and Territories of Health Equity Research

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Health Inequalities and Disparities Research (HIDR) is a rare example of a domain where social and natural scientists from multiple disciplines address similar scientific questions. While it is frequently asserted that public health is a multidisciplinary field, no study has systematically documented the blend of disciplines contributing to a public health specialism, and theories from SSK and STS which might illuminate the impact of disciplinary training on research about health have been scarcely applied.

I present early findings from my PhD project, which - using HIDR as a case study - aims to document disciplinary diversity and flesh out theoretical understandings of the ways in which researchers’ training impacts the design, conduct and interpretation of research about health. Via bibliometric analysis (n= 29,212 papers) the field is mapped and eight discrete ‘communities’ detected. Disciplinary diversity is not uniform between communities, or across the field.

Qualitative interviews (n=43) with members of these communities suggests deep unity and disunity across disciplinary boundaries. Researchers express contrasting beliefs about the state of HIDR and science generally, which appear to stem from their original trainings. Tensions anticipated by the STS and SSK literatures are also evident in these data.

This research i) contributes to understandings of factors producing and sustaining academic ‘silos’ within public health ii) acts as a resource for HIDR researchers and funders wishing to diversify or expand their networks, and iii) empirically extends theoretical work asserting the powerful, enduring influence of scientific training.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes
EventBSA Medical Sociology Group Annual Conference 2019 - University of York , York, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Sept 201913 Sept 2019 (Abstracts Book) (Event Archive for British Sociological Association)


ConferenceBSA Medical Sociology Group Annual Conference 2019
Abbreviated titleBSA MedSoc 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

Cite this