Author:Marthe Schille-Rognmo (UiT The Arctic University of Norway)
Paper short abstract:
Through the study of 'apparatuses of observation, measurement and mapping' in digitalized, low transaction cost surveys, we provide a critical account of population health images that are produced and published with the combined authority of governmental agencies and the science of epidemiology.
Paper long abstract:
Today we can witness, in Norway and other affluent countries, a proliferation of population health mapping activities, facilitated by the ubiquity of information and communication technologies for the sourcing, processing, presentation and communication of large amounts of data. To an increasing degree, these data-infrastructures are designed and managed by, or on behalf of, governmental agencies with the science of epidemiology enjoying an unchallenged hegemonic status as the evidence base underlying public health policies.
This paper aims to reflect on the making of population health images, that is on institutional and methodological data-production infrastructures through which population health images are produced. Ungdata, a fast growing and expanding mapping system, running digitalized, low transaction cost (dLTC) surveys of living conditions and health related behavior of 16-18 year old teenagers will serve as an illustrative example throughout the paper.
The Ungdata studies have shown that there are systematic gender differences in the mental health of Norwegian adolescents. Nearly 25 percent of girls from the age of 15-16 struggle with depressive symptoms, approximately 20 percent struggle with daily physical health issues and as many as every third female is dissatisfied with herself (NOVA,2017).
Through the critical scrutiny of Ungdatas' 'apparatuses of observation, measurement and mapping' that are constitutive of the public health images produced, including the deployment of embedded ICT-infrastructures in dLTC-surveys, we offer an admonishment against the unrestrained confidence in population health images that are produced and published with the combined authority of governmental agencies and the science of epidemiology.
STS for critical public health studies