"Lay" investigations and the dynamics of the controversies in environmental health

Starting from the existing literature, this paper proposes an analytical framework to capture the general dynamics of the controversies in environmental health and, more particularly, the role of the 'layman' in this issue, within democratic societies. The article emphasizes the importance of a research work conducted by non-specialists to provide tangible demonstration of the existence of a health problem related to their environment. This research work provides for two processes that are at the center of the dynamics of these controversies: the victimization, i.e., the transformation of ill people into victims; and the questioning, i.e., the attribution of certain pathologies to environmental factors. The identification of these two processes, which may be concurrent, makes it possible to distinguish different settings and to understand how a controversy evolves over time.

Environmental health; Diseases; Controversy; Lay knowledge; Causality

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