Sociology, environment and health: a materialist approach

N. J. Fox, P. Alldred

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives This paper reviews the sociology of environment and health and makes the case for a postanthropocentric approach based on new materialist theory. This perspective fully incorporates humans and their health into ‘the environment’, and in place of human-centred concerns considers the forces that constrain or enhance environmental capacities. Study design This is not an empirical study. The paper uses a hypothetical vignette concerning child health and air pollution to explore the new materialist model advocated in the paper. Methods This paper used sociological analysis. Results A new materialist and postanthropocentric sociology of environment and health are possible. This radically reconfigures both sociological theory and its application to research and associated policies on health and the environment. Theoretically, human health is rethought as one among a number of capacities emerging from humans interactions with the social and natural world. Practically, the focus of intervention and policy shifts towards fostering social and natural interactions that enhance environmental (and in the process, human) potentiality. Conclusions This approach to research and policy development has relevance for public health practice and policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-293
Number of pages7
JournalPublic Health
Early online date22 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


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