The political economy of health: a useful theoretical tool for health education practice.

Research paper by M M Minkler, S P SP Wallace, M M McDonald

Indexed on: 01 Jan '94Published on: 01 Jan '94Published in: International quarterly of community health education


Political economy is a broad theoretical framework which can help health educators better understand the many economic, political, and socio-historical forces which shape contemporary health problems, and our approaches to these problems. Its attention to the dynamics of race, class and gender, as these interact to effect the lives of individuals and broader social groups, makes a political economy approach an important supplement and complement to other macro and micro level theories at the base of health education practice. This article defines political economy, highlighting several of its key theoretical assumptions and describing their relevance for our understanding of health issues. Implications and applications then are provided demonstrating the utility of a political economy perspective in such diverse areas as occupational health education, physician-patient interactions, grass roots organizing and self help among African American women, and health care reform.