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Cooper, Richard S. & Kaufman, Jay S. (1999). Is There an Absence of Theory in Social Epidemiology? The Authors Respond to Muntaner. American Journal of Epidemiology, 150(2), 127-128.


An interesting argument, like a musical composition, should generate several interpretations of the same idea. We have offered one perspective on the dilemma facing social epidemiology (1), and in his commentary (2) Dr. Muntaner extends our argument in a new direction. While we share many points of agreement with Dr. Muntaner, we will concentrate here on the source of greatest contention in order to push the exchange one step further. Aside from objecting that social epidemiology was unfairly singled out for criticism, Muntaner's main disagreement with us lies in our emphasis on methodology rather than social theory. He opens by asserting that "the main reason why social epidemiology has not provided better explanations is lack of social theory" (2, p. 121), and, in relation to the principal example of race, concludes that "(suggestions of innate racial predispositions... are the consequence not of an inappropriate use of counterfactual arguments but of the lack of attention to social theory"
(2, p. 123).


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Epidemiology


Cooper, Richard S.
Kaufman, Jay S.