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Research profiles

Research Fields


Health, Humanity and Culture’s interdisciplinary partnership between philosophers, psychologists, ethnologists and historians is grounded in the respective scientific disciplines. The partners share the viewpoint that challenges of a theoretical and practical nature require cross-disciplinary research collaboration.

Philosophy and Philosophy of Science

Concepts such as illness, health, welfare, subject, state, participation, autonomy, education, learning, body and knowledge are, with a variety of emphases, key issues in all the disciplines constituting the professional backgrounds for the participants in Health, Humanity and Culture. The philosophers involved in the network contribute to the research field by analysing the above-mentioned concepts and their scientific and practical meaning, as well as clarifying the philosophical disputes prompted by these concepts historically and today. Furthermore, in collaboration with the relevant disciplines, Health, Humanity and Culture is working on developing coherent philosophical perspectives to advance the development of theory and practice in relation to health.

Exploring the conditions and consequences connected to new technology in health practice and in the healthcare system has had and will have a high priority. This part of the research has primarily been inspired by those members of Health, Humanity and Culture who work on issues related to information science and philosophy of science, with particular emphasis on specific questions connected to the development of health care practice and the health care system (including the implementation and use of electronic hospital records).


The psychologists participating in Health, Humanity and Culture work in a number of psychological fields: personality psychology, health psychology and clinical psychology, pedagogical psychology etc. Their research sheds light on aspects of living with illness, nuisances and handicaps in society that are often ignored in health research. Health research grounded in biomedicine has understandably been focused on the meeting between patient/client and the professional therapist. But the client’s everyday life, the value that he or she assigns to what is offered by the professionals, the way they are used and possibly supplemented by advice and support from family, friends and alternative practitioners have largely been unexplored. Increasing knowledge in this area is not only interesting from a research-related viewpoint, but is also important in relation to planning and politics, in a situation where one of the key political issues is to increase collaboration between the professional system and civil society. PhD students trained in connection with the Health, Humanity and Culture network have completed a number of research projects that are important in relation to collaboration between various professional groups and between professionals and patients and relatives.

Research in Health Promotion

People’s everyday lives are also of central importance to humanistic research in health promotion.

Biomedicine and epidemiology have given us indispensable tools for prevention. But health is – as has been pointed out by WHO since 1948 – more than absence of illness. Health entails people’s abilities to participate in different kinds of communities (family, local environments, workplace etc.) Projects connected to Health, Humanity and Culture have contributed in different ways to exploring the possibilities of developing and supporting people’s potential to develop these abilities. The research includes examining various kinds of coping (e.g. in old age), empowerment through mutual support in social networks etc.

The research raises a number of pivotal ethical questions regarding, for instance, the relationship between expert support of or involvement in people’s or groups ways of life and the autonomy of these people or groups.

Ethnology: Life Modes and the State

In the 1980s, Danish ethnologists contributed to shedding light on the relationship between different life modes in Denmark (the wage earners, the self-employed, the career-driven) and the public service system. Such a clarification proved to be of great value in understanding the debate and criticism directed at parts of the Danish welfare system in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

While the Health, Humanity and Culture network was being established, ethnologists expanded their analysis of ways of life in Denmark with a state theory about Denmark’s position in Europe and international society. In relation to this work, a number of smaller projects were carried out on the health care system and health practice in a changing welfare state.

Furthermore, based on research in the humanities and ethnology, a number of general scientific concepts and issues have been discussed, such as the relationship between empirical knowledge and theory and the relationship between discourse and practice.