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Specificity of the contribution of the knowledge and practices of the Social and Human Sciences to health

This article deals with questions concerning life, health, and getting ill in the current society. It tries to show the contributions of the social and human sciences to the construction of the health field -mainly public health- both in the level of empirical investigation and in the theoretical and methodological ones. It tries to point out that the analytical categories and concepts, as well as methodological strategies of the human sciences are helpful to explain relationships between conducts, lifestyles, work, cultural values and the health/disease process. It also attempts to demonstrate that this group of sciences has its own forms of expression and style of knowledge diffusion, which are not always accepted by the hard sciences in the life and health fields, including medicine and epidemiology. Despite their real contribution for the advance of the field, they can be "accused" of not being objective or exact. The social scientists of the public health field have often to prove that the results of their studies or their own style of expression are as "scientific" as those of the hard disciplines.

Social Sciences; Health Field; Scientific Contribution

Faculdade de Saúde Pública, Universidade de São Paulo. Associação Paulista de Saúde Pública. Av. dr. Arnaldo, 715, Prédio da Biblioteca, 2º andar sala 2, 01246-904 São Paulo - SP - Brasil, Tel./Fax: +55 11 3061-7880 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil