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Sociology, biology and mechanisms in urban mental health

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
Early online date5 Nov 2018
Accepted/In press5 Oct 2018
E-pub ahead of print5 Nov 2018
Published7 Mar 2019


King's Authors


This paper examines the way in which sociology and biology continue to struggle to understand why urban life creates high levels of mental disorder. The movement of the world population to be majority urban in recent years adds urgency to this issue. The paper addresses ways in which sociological analysis and biological analysis might work together through the identification of mechanisms, imagined and confirmed through data, of the way in which urban life gets ‘under the skin’. The argument moves from the use of mechanisms in scientific explanation, to the shortcomings of epidemiology, and the possibility of a new ‘mechanism-rich’ epidemiology. It then discusses seven examples of work that might contribute to this effort, concluding that more careful ethnography is required.

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