chapter  6
Health promotion as social policy
ByRobin Bunton
Pages 1

Health promotion professes to be centrally concerned with the social policy process and most definitions of health promotion place notions of social structure and policy process at the centre of concerns. Building healthy public policy, for example, was one of the five means of health promotion action to achieve Health For All by the Year 2000 – along with creating supportive environments, strengthening community action, developing personal skills, and reorienting health services. To promote health effectively, we need to be able to understand, analyse, and ultimately influence social and health policy. Social policy should have a substantial input to health promotion, taking health promotion on its own terms. More than this, however, the study of social policy might contribute to our understanding of the emergence of health promotion itself. Health promotion has developed along with and in response to a social and political context particular to the late twentieth century. It has been described as lying at the forefront of social and cultural change (Beattie 1991). Understanding this social and political policy context, and health promotion’s place within it, provides important reflection and self-awareness but also allows a better understanding of the limitations on and the possibilities for developing healthy public policy. Health promotion is itself a topic of interest to social policy analysts and is increasingly seen as an area of social policy. There are substantial areas of overlap between the two fields of study.