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Heart-SickThe Politics of Risk, Inequality, and Heart Disease$
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Janet K. Shim

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780814786833

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814786833.001.0001

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Individualizing “Difference” and the Production of Scientific Credibility

Individualizing “Difference” and the Production of Scientific Credibility

(p.162) 6 Individualizing “Difference” and the Production of Scientific Credibility

Janet K. Shim

NYU Press

This chapter discusses the epidemiologists' ritualized and ubiquitous practice of individualizing social differences. Epidemiologists apply the process of epidemiologic individualization or the “usual suspects” approach as the “right tool for the job” to help comply and cope with certain requirements, mandates, and constraints. The approach also allows researchers to satisfy a number of contingencies that must be met in order to achieve and maintain scientific credibility. As such, not only does the use of individualized sociodemographic variables come to be routinized, but it in turn institutionalizes particular conceptions of human, bodily “differences” in cardiovascular epidemiology, ideas about what constitutes disease “risks” and “causes,” and how inequalities in heart disease can be addressed.

Keywords:   epidemiologists, heart disease, usual suspects, epidemiologic individualization, sociodemographic variables

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