Progressivism Without the People: Why Focusing on Health Inequality Makes Inequality Overall More Persistent

Since the early 1800s, epidemiologists have been aware of socioeconomic differences in health and illness. But it is only in the last twenty years or so that, across western Europe, politicians have taken up the issue of health inequalities as a way or reframing the issue of social inequality more broadly. In the book project on which this talk draws, I show that shifting from economic to medical framings of inequality in political discourse leads to policies that make it harder to reduce either health inequalities or the socioeconomic inequalities that are their fundamental causes. I also explore how the technocratic language of health inequality affects the relationship between center-Left parties and voters, resulting in a hollowing-out of the support that these parties once derived from advocating redistribution.