Public health discourses in Birmingham and Gothenburg, 1890–1920
This chapter looks at the role which 'scientific' public health policy played in urban politics and governance in the early twentieth century. It argues that the ways in which health authorities defined environmental problems or 'social diseases' such as tuberculosis, infant mortality and venereal diseases did not only help to maintain the capitalist economic system and the family in general. The chapter begins by discussing the ways in which health authorities 'mapped' cities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the political assumptions underlying these maps. It explores the basic tenets of the anti-tuberculosis campaigns in Birmingham and Gothenburg and in particular the ways in which the rights and responsibilities of the healthy, the sick and the medical profession were defined in these campaigns. The chapter examines some of these differences and to discuss how the approaches chosen by the Birmingham and Gothenburg authorities were shaped by the social, moral and political cultures within which they worked.