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Message posted on 28/06/2018

Call for ECR abstracts ‘Social norms and health: critique, evaluation and justification’ workshop, Edinburgh September 6th and 7th 2018

Dear Colleagues,

As part of the Wellcome funded Liminal Spaces project, Agomoni Ganguli Mitra
and I are organising a workshop on social norms and health in Edinburgh 6-7
September 2018. We are now putting out a call for abstracts from early career
researchers who are working on topics related to health and social norms.

This is an exciting opportunity for ECRS from a range of disciplines
(including but not limited to bioethics, law, public health, sociology and
STS) and we would be grateful if you could circulate it widely amongst all
relevant research networks.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if your require further information,

Ago and Isabel


We invite abstracts from early career researchers for 15 minute presentations
at our Social norms and health: critique, evaluation and justification
workshop, to be held in Edinburgh September 6th and 7th 2018.

A key aim of this event is to create interdisciplinary dialogue to develop new
ways of working with social norms, and so we request that all participants
attend both days. Funding is available to cover the cost of accommodation and
travel (within the UK) for those ECRs whose abstracts are accepted.

The submission deadline is July 27th 2018. Prospective participants are kindly
requested to submit an abstract of max. 250 words to the following email

Social norms and health: critique, evaluation and justification


Social norms act as extra-legal mechanisms or social conventions that steer
and reinforce attitudes and choices in a variety of social spheresincluding
healthacting against, or in tandem with law, regulation and policy. Engaging
with norms and understanding their operation is vital, given the urgency of
health problems that are driven by human practices, and because health
policies, both in the domestic and international arena, are themselves often
aimed at changing norms and behaviour. While there has been considerable work
on this area within social science, continued interdisciplinary dialogue is
required develop constructive and justified approaches to critiquing and
changing social norms. We contend that in order to adequately address a number
of challenges in global health and wellbeing, it is necessary to develop
sophisticated and normatively sound mechanisms to evaluate and govern social
norms in health policy, practice and activism.

Existing mechanisms for behaviour modification including incentives, nudges,
and technological fixes - often lack both normative rigour and moral
legitimacy. They might also further reinforce problematic norms, or eschew
ethics in favour of efficiency, for example by reinforcing gender
discrimination or further stigmatising overweight individuals. Just as
problematically, such approaches often shift the burden onto individuals for
what should either be collective change - in socially condoned gender
discrimination, for example - or that should be driven via long-term policy
change in sectors beyond health, such as shifting agricultural subsidies to
improve access to healthy food.

If we are to address norms with the goal of improving global health, we need
to develop a shared account of norms and their operation, one that can align
both efficacy and moral legitimacy. Our hypothesis is that this can be done by
appealing to considerations of justice, by focussing on collectives over
individuals, and by shifting a larger part of the moral burden onto groups,
institutions, practices and policies. We suggest that further exploring norms
can help us understand how certain behaviours and attitudes are reinforced or
altered. In doing so, we are pulling away from the idea of the ideal,
rational, homo economicus that many policies and guidelines tend to address,
and further exploring how socially embedded individuals choose and act within
their particular contexts.

Draft Programme

Day One

Arrival and welcome
Session One: Concepts and mechanisms
Session Two: Norms and Health
Coffee break
Session Three: Norms and Diet
Conference Dinner

Day Two

Session Four: Norms and Gender
Session Five: Norms, behaviour change and inequality: new approaches
Coffee break
Session Six: Final Roundtable and Future Steps

Isabel Fletcher PhD
Senior Research Fellow (Medical Sociology)
Liminal Spaces Project
The Mason Institute
Edinburgh Law School
Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh EH8 9YL

Tel: 0131 651 4792

[demime 1.01d removed an attachment of type application/pdf which had a name of Norms_ECR call_28.6.pdf]
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