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Contemporary normative assumptions about power and the rise of public health

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  1. Introduction
  2. Nietzsche's emphasis on personal power over state power
  3. Finding public health: structures and systems
  4. Corporal discipline on thin ice
  5. Frameworks and the deconstruction of episodic power
  6. Public health as bio-power: establishing ownership and value
  7. Appendix
  8. References

Post- Nietzschian scholarship explores the structural role of power. These authors assume that power is embedded in a complicated system that constrains or enables actors. Previous authors, such as Machiavelli and Kautilya, rested their claims on the inherent power of the sovereign. Moreover, the works of Aristotle and ibn Khaldun, the Biblical texts, and de las Casas's Brief Account noted how the character of the sovereign, be it virtuous or not, shaped the nature of his power. Still other authors, such as Thucydides, wrote on the subject of inter-state power-play.

[...] Before the rise of public health, women's health needs were often left unattended. Maternal and child health programs, though, helped to establish women's autonomy and establish greater gender equity. The manifestation of the power of public health, therefore, rests on slippery slope which can either empower or disempower populations. Frameworks and the deconstruction of episodic power Late modern theorists also assume that the structure of power can be spatially framed and modeled. For Lukes, Gaventa, Bachrach, and Baratz, power analyses depend on the visibility, invisibility, or hidden nature of the relationship in question. [...]

[...] Placing a value on the power of public health, therefore, fluctuates largely across space and time. Who places this value and how she places it further complicates the judgment. The power to control the population's health, either for better or worse, lies in the hands of many and contextually varies in its expression. Appendix 1 The following vignette demonstrates the pervasiveness of public health beyond the private health clinic. Whether public health is promoted through food safety, disease control, traffic safety, environmental protections, or media-sponsored awareness, the quotidian presence of public health practice is palpable. [...]

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