After 6 years studying medicine and campaigning for health justice, I’ve concluded that I know virtually nothing about the real drivers and movements that significantly improve people’s health. Nothing. Sweet FA.
Ok, maybe a little bit, but still; there is a long shadow of ignorance behind me – a giant pyramid of everyday heroes (past and present) holding us up. People who I know nothing about, who are excluded from the history of health passed on by our elders and teachers. Movements outside the comfortable bubble of technological progress and established professionals.
So here’s what I’m going to do: I’ve drafted the questions below, which I’m going to try to answer over the next few years. At this point I could just head off into the distance like some kind of smartphone-spinning academic lone ranger, but a wise man once told me to “think in public”, which has proven to be excellent advice.
So I’m appealing to you for any pointers, perspectives, histories, evidence, case studies, articles, books, podcasts or contacts that you can throw at me, to make this journey more exciting and enlightening. If you think I’m asking stupid questions, then tell me. If you think I’ve missed something big, then let me know. If you think it’s hilarious that someone can spend 6 years learning about health and accrue an infantile knowledge on these topics – please keep laughing. It’s comically tragic that society has forgotten the people who have served it best. Obviously I do have some knowledge – but only enough to see that I’ve poked my head into a giant bat-cave-of-wonder, without a torch, map or even (shock horror) a lunch box.
So, the overarching question is:
How do health worker unions, patient groups and health-focussed social movements contribute to social change? In the UK, abroad, past and present.
But in particular:
- what have they won/what have they lost – how?
- how have they altered/maintained power relationships?
- what tactics, strategy and actions have they used? To what effect?
- are there particular organisations that redefined our approach to organising/campaigning?
- what approaches have been used to “organise” these communities? (or for these communities to self-organise)
- how have they been structured?
- how does this work across borders?
- how have they interacted with other unions and social movements, and causes that aren’t immediately linked to health?
- what have they campaigned for?
- are there struggles/points of conflict that are common to these groups?
- who (in terms of profession, demographic, key figures) played what roles in these organisations?
- what political ideologies motivated and shaped these groups?
If you have any comments or suggestions, then please write below or get in touch.