Globalization and the Politics of Health

Health and Globalization by G. B. Cockerham and W. C.
Cockerham. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010. 215 pp.,
£15.99 paperback, 9780745645131

Global Politics of Health by Sara E. Davies. Cambridge:
Polity Press, 2009. 243pp., £16.99 paperback,

Globalization and Health by Ronald Labonté, Ted
Schrecker, Corinne Packer and Vivien Runnels (eds).
Abingdon: Routledge, 2009. 356 pp., £75.00 hardcover,

Expressed in succinct terms, globalization entails an extension and intensification of all forms of human relatedness, most notably by enlarging and accelerating complex interactions of human and natural systems. In addition to the staggering array of practical challenges presented by globalizing dynamics in every field of human relations and endeavor, our terms of reference – familiar patterns, established concepts and predominant theories – are also subject to various dislocations by unprecedented rates of change, complex causal relations that defy timely analysis and inadequate explanatory ‘reach’. Globalization is too broad and encompassing and too varied in its drivers and outcomes to be grasped adequately in abstract terms, so thematic studies are not only welcome – they are necessary. Although in recent years attention has been focused on the actors, drivers and outcomes of global financial turbulence, the impacts of globalization on human health are no less compelling – and they are likely to prove more enduring and less tractable. And as these three books demonstrate, they also serve to pose searching questions about disciplinary boundaries, of International Relations in particular. One cannot read far into studies of how globalization and human health are configured – and the extent to which they are changed and changing – without also confronting a range of sector-specific ‘global’ terminology: the global politics of health; global health actors; global health governance; and (to the extent that it differs) the global governance of health.

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