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Alcohol, ideological schisms and a science of corporate behaviours on health

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Consensus is fast building in the public health community around the need to research and address the ‘industrial epidemics’ of non-communicable disease across both Global North and South. However, while it is agreed that the effects of corporate behaviour on health are serious, there have been limited attempts to map out what a ‘science’ of these interrelationships might be. To do this requires actively engaging with the ways in which corporate actors generate and shape risk behaviours, public perceptions and influence policy. Moving forward, this ‘science’ will inevitably require critical reflection on the consequences of the deepening ‘ideological schism’ within the public health community in its attitudes towards industry. To date, of all the ‘unhealthy commodities industries’, alcohol has arguably received the least empirical attention from researchers. This gap is even more significant given the growing adversity between the public health community and the industry from the national scale to that of the WHO. This paper explores the nature of the ideological schism within alcohol research and its significance for the future development both of a ‘science’ of the effects of corporate behaviour on health and the advocacy that will be needed to change future regulatory and business environments in more health-promoting ways.
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Keywords: alcohol; corporations; industry; policy science; public health

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, King’s College London, London, UK

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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