Share This Article:

Knowledge Construction: Untapped Perspective in Pursuit for Health Equity

Full-Text HTML Download Download as PDF (Size:106KB) PP. 362-372
DOI: 10.4236/sm.2012.24048    3,138 Downloads   6,001 Views   Citations
Author(s)    Leave a comment


Background: Racism is one of the major pathogenic social conditions that contribute to health disparity. Health disparities between blacks and whites are biological expressions of long-standing unjust social relationships. Health disparities between blacks and whites are explained not only in terms of differences in the socio-economic statuses but also by the impacts of epistemological racism. In health sciences, epistemological racism is manifested through the research questions asked, the research agendas framed, the ways in which data are collected and interpreted as well as the ways research funds are allocated. Often research questions are framed from the perspective of the researchers and the funders. Such a research mainly solves the socio-economic health problems of the researchers, funders and the dominant and leaves aside the need of the marginalized groups. Methods: Using Anti-racist theoretical framework I critically examine the connections between knowledge, race and health disparity between different racial groups and the pathogenicity of racism. Conclusion: Our health problems are unique to our culture and social realities. Research that is intended to reduce health disparities between racial minorities and the dominant groups need to frame research questions differently. Researchers need to realize that the contemporary epistemology of health sciences embodies the society that has produced it. Such knowledge has critical limitation in understanding the need of racial minorities and in finding solutions. To reduce health disparity we need to make the knowledge and experiences of different groups of people and their ways of knowing part of the educational curricula. School should prepare students to see the world primarily in their own perspective and define their needs and aspirations; facilitate conditions to widen their scope in understanding the world and solve their social problems.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Dugassa, B. (2012). Knowledge Construction: Untapped Perspective in Pursuit for Health Equity. Sociology Mind, 2, 362-372. doi: 10.4236/sm.2012.24048.


[1] Abma, T. (2002). Emerging narrative forms of knowledge representation in the health sciences: Two texts in a postmodern context. Qualitative Health Research, 12, 5-27. doi:10.1177/1049732302012001002
[2] American Sociological Associations (2003). The importance of collecting data and doing social scientific research on race. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.
[3] Associated Press (2002). Zambia rejects GM food aid, globe and mail. Online Edition.
[4] Auer, A.-M. & Andersson, R. (2001). Canadian aboriginal communities: A framework for injury surveillance. Health Promotion International, 16. doi:10.1093/heapro/16.2.169
[5] Balsa, A., & McGuire, T. (2001). Statistical discrimination in health care. Journal of Health Economics, 20, 881-907. doi:10.1016/S0167-6296(01)00101-1
[6] Banks, J. (1995). The canon debate, knowledge construction and multicultural education. Educational Researcher, 24, 15-25. doi:10.2307/1176421
[7] Banks, J. (2000). Race, knowledge construction, and education in the USA: Lesson from history. Race Ethnicity and Education, 5, 7-27. doi:10.1080/13613320120117171
[8] Barash, C. (1998). Sickle cell trait, policy and research paradigms. Science as Culture, 7, 379. doi:10.1080/09505439809526512
[9] Barnes-Josiah, D. (2004). Undoing racism in public health: A blueprint for action in urban MCH. URL (last checked 30 July 2011).
[10] Battiste, M., & Henderson, J. (2000). Protecting Indigenous Knowledge and Heritage. Saskatoon: Purich Publishing Ltd.
[11] Bhopal, R. (1997). Is research into ethnicity and health racist, unsound, or important science? British Medical Journal, 314, 1751-1756. doi:10.1136/bmj.314.7096.1751
[12] Brach and Fraserirector (2001). Can cultural competency reduce racial and ethnic health disparities? A review and conceptual model medical care research and review. Racial and Ethnic Inequities, 57, 181-217.
[13] Brainy Quote (2011). URL (last checked 30 July 2011).
[14] Carter-Pokras, O. (1999). Health profile of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. Ethnicity & Health, 4, 117-120. doi:10.1080/13557859998083
[15] Cohen, J. J. (1997). Finishing the bridge to diversity. Academic Medicine, 72, 103-109. doi:10.1097/00001888-199702000-00010
[16] Cooper, L., Hill, M., & Powe, N. (2002). Designing and evaluating intentions to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 17, 477-486. doi:10.1046/j.1525-1497.2002.10633.x
[17] Cragin, F. W. M. D. (1836) Art. VIII. Observations on cachexia Africana or dirt-eating. American Journal of the Medical Sciences, 17, 356-364.
[18] Dei, G. (2000). Toward an anti-racism discursive framework. In D. George, & C. Agnes (Eds.), Power, Knowledge and Anti-Racism Education.
[19] Dei, G. (1996). The challenges of inclusive schooling and education: Multicentric curriculum and pedagogy. In G. Dei (Ed.), Anti-Rcism Education: Theory and Practice (pp. 75-104). Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.
[20] Doucer, A., & Mauthner, N. S. (2006). Feminist methodologies and epistemology. In C. D. Bryant and D. L. Peck (Eds.), Handbook of 21st Century Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
[21] Dries, D. L., Exner, D. V., Gersh, B. J., Cooper, H. A., Carson, P. E., & Domanski, M. J. (1999). Racial differences in the outcome of left ventricular dysfunction. The New England Journal of Medicine, 340, 609-616. doi:10.1056/NEJM199902253400804
[22] Dugassa, B. (2011). Colonialism of mind: Deterrent of social transformation—The experiences of oromo people. Ethiopia, Sociology Mind, 1, 55-64. doi:10.4236/sm.2011.12007
[23] Eaton, L. (2003). AIDS vaccine may offer hope only for some ethnic groups. British Medical Journal, 326, 463. doi:10.1136/bmj.326.7387.463
[24] Foucault, M. (1976). Archeology of knowledge. New York: Harper and Row.
[25] Frantz, F. (1968). The wretch of the earth, preface by Jean-Paul Sartre. New York: Grove Press.
[26] Fredericks, B. (2009). The epistemology that maintains white race privilege, power and control of Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Peoples participation in Universities. Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association, 5, 1-12.
[27] Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.
[28] Freire, P. (2001.) Pedagogy of freedom, ethics, democracy and civic courage. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
[29] Garvin, T. (2001). Analytical paradigms: The epistemological distances between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Risk Analysis, 21. doi:10.1111/0272-4332.213124
[30] Goldberg, D. T. (1999). Racism and rationality: The need for a new critique. In L. Harris (Ed.), Racism: Key concepts in critical theory (pp. 369-397). New York: Humanity Books.
[31] Gonzalez, J., Owens, W., Ungaro, P., Werk, E., & Wenz, P. (1982). Clay ingestion: A rare cause of hypokalemia. Annals of Internal Medicine, 97, 65-66.
[32] Gray, F. (1998). The tuskegee syphilis study: The real story and beyond. Montgomery, AL: Vaughan Printing.
[33] Grolier International Encyclopedia (1991). Dunbury, Grolier Incorporated.
[34] Guilfoyle, J., Kelly, L., St. Pierre-Hansen, N. (2008). Prejudice in medicine. Our role in creating health care disparities. Canadian Family Physicians, 54, 1511-1513.
[35] Hanley, A., Harris, S., et al. (2003). Complications of type 2 diabetes amongaboriginal canadians: Increasing the understanding of prevalence and risk factors. Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 27, 455-463.
[36] Hegele, R., Lloyd, F., & Frcsc, B. (2003). Genetics, environment and type 2 diabetes in the oji-cree population of northern Ontario. Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 27, 256.
[37] Hook, B. (1989). Talking back: Thinking feminist, thinking black. Boston: South End Press.
[38] Hyman, I. (2009). Racism as a determinant of immigrant health. URL (last checked 21 April 2011).
[39] Jalata, A. (2001). Fighting against the injustice of the state and globalization, comparing the African American and Oromo Movements, Palgrave Macmillan. New York: Palgrave.
[40] Jones, K. (2006) Examining race in health research: The case for listening to language. Diversity in Health and Social Care, 3, 35-41.
[41] Krieger, N. (2010) Harvard School of Public Health, US, Health inequities and epidemiologic theories of disease distribution—An ecosocial critique. Forum on: Towards equitable futures: Integrating history, theory and practice, Programme. URL (last checked 24 March 2011).
[42] Li, P. (1988) Ethnic inequality in a class society. Toronto: Thomson Educational Publishing.
[43] Lopez, I. J. (1995). The social construction of Race. In R. Delgado (Ed.), Critical race theory: The cutting edge (pp. 191-203). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
[44] Lorde, A. (1984). Sister outsider. Essay’s and Speeches by Audre Lorde. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press.
[45] Kendall, J., & Hatton, D. (2002). Racism as a source of health disparity in families with children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Advances in Nursing Science, 25, 22-39.
[46] Kuhn, T. (1970). The structure of scientific revolutions (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
[47] Kumanyika, S. (2006) Nutrition and chronic disease prevention: Priorties for US minority groups. Nutrition Reviews, 64, S9-S14. doi:10.1301/nr.2006.feb.S9-S14
[48] Mann, J., Gruskin, S., Grodin, M., & Annas, G. (1999). Health and human rights, a reader. New York: Routledge.
[49] McKenzie, K. (2003.) Racism and health. British Medical Journal, 326, 65-66. doi:10.1136/bmj.326.7380.65
[50] Michaelson, M. (1987). Sickle cell Anemia: An interesting pathology. In G. Dawn, & L. Les (Eds.), Anti-racist science teaching. London: Free Association Books.
[51] Mohanty, C. (1990). On race and voice: Challenges for liberal education in the 1990s. Cultural Critique, 14, 79-208.
[52] Moss, N. (1997). What are the underlying sources of racial differences in health? Annals of Epidemiology, 7, 320-321. doi:10.1016/S1047-2797(97)00026-4
[53] Okolie, A. (2002). Beyond courtesy curriculum: A contribution to the debate on inclusive education in Canadian Universities. Annual Conference of the Canadian Society and Anthropology Association, Toronto, 29 May-1 June 2002.
[54] Omi, M., & Winant, H. (1993). On the theoretical concept of race. In C. McCarthy, & W. Crichlow (Eds.), Race Identity and Representation in Education (pp. 3-10). New York: Routledge.
[55] Ozmon, H. (1999) Philosophical foundations of education (6th ed.). Princeton: Merrill Pub Co.
[56] Ready, T. (2001). The impact of affirmative action on medical education and the Nation’s Health, In G. Orfield, & M. Kuraender (Eds.), Diversity challenged: Evidence on the impact of affirmative action. Cambridge: Civil Rights Project.
[57] Rosen, G. (1993). A history of public health. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. doi:10.2105/AJPH.83.8.1180-a
[58] Said, E. (1994). Culture and imperialism. New York: Vintage Books.
[59] Sanders-Phillips, K. (2002). Factors influencing HIV/AIDS in women of color. Public Health Reports, 117, 151-156.
[60] Scheurich, J., & Young, M. (1997). Coloring epistemologies: Are our research epistemology racially biased? Educational Researcher, 26, 4-16. doi:10.3102/0013189X026004004
[61] Shor, I., & Freire, P. (1987). A pedagogy for liberation, dialogues on transforming education. New York: Bergin & Garvey.
[62] Smith Tuhiwai, L. (2002). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. London: Zed Books.
[63] Reis, J., Michos, E., Muhlen, D., & Miller, E. (2008). Differences in vitamin D status as a possible contributor to the racial disparity in peripheral arterial disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 88, 1469-1477. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.26447
[64] USA Today (2003) AIDS fights hit racial divide. 31 March 2003.
[65] William, W., Dressler, K. S. O., & Clarence, C. G. (2005). Race and ethnicity in public health research: Models to explain health disparities. Annual Review of Anthropology, 34, 231-252. doi:10.1146/annurev.anthro.34.081804.120505
[66] Williams, D. (1997). Race and health: Basic questions, emerging directions. Annals of Epidemiology, 7, 322-333. doi:10.1016/S1047-2797(97)00051-3
[67] World Health Organization WHO (1948). Constitution of The World Health Organization. URL (last checked 29 October 2012).
[68] World Health Organization (WHO) (1998). Health promotion glossary, Geneva: Division of Health Promotion and Communication, Health Education and Promotion Unit.

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2018 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.