I have so many sociological terms want to share, but I’ll try to stick to the ones that make sense in the context of public consumption!
1.Economicsa side effect or consequence of an industrial or commercial activity that affects other parties without this being reflected in the cost of the goods or services involved, such as the pollination of surrounding crops by bees kept for honey.
2.Philosophythe fact of existing outside the perceiving subject.(Definition from a Google search)
“Negative externalities are all the side effects of an activity that negatively affect others. Positive externalities are side effects that benefit others” (Wright, and Rodgers, p. 55).
I think the idea externalities in the world of consumer health is very important, and the externalities of our actions as consumers might only be a fairly recent (last 10-20 years) development. How do our regulations affect all members of our society, do they affect us all equally? How do the cost of goods affect everyone? How does choosing to vaccinate or not affect others? Which brings me to my next term; Imposed Risk (not to be confused with self imposed risk).
“Imposed risk refers to risk to individuals and populations that is out of their direct control” (Riegelman, and Kirkwood, p. 104). I think on a simple level, when we vote for representatives to pass laws for us, we lose direct control of our government. I think our current administration is a good example. I am happy to have to right to vote, but I did not vote for our current president, and this is something out of my direct control. I think the Flint water disaster is another example of imposed risk. From the chemicals that are used to grow our fruits and vegetables, to the chemicals in materials in our home furniture, electronics, and vehicles.
Lastly, I’d like to consider Victim Blaming in addition to my previously two mentioned glossary terms. “Victim blaming–placing the responsibility or blame for a bad outcome on the individual who experiences the bad outcome due to his or her behavior” (Riegelman, an Kirkwood, Glossary). I think as a community we tend to place blame on people because at a shallow glance their dispositions appear to be based solely on their own behaviors. It’s easy to attribute fault to the victim, it’s easier to not think beyond what is obvious. For example; what are the externalities of un-affordable and expensive higher education (both good and bad), what sort of risks are we imposing on others when we unnecessarily update our phones and cars, what are the externalities of not covering mental health care as a necessary benefit for all? I hope we all can reconsider why someone may be an addict, homeless, mentally ill, lacking higher education, or living in poverty. There’s always more depth to a problem that what’s visible.
Wright, E. O., & Rogers, J. (2011). American society: how it really works. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
Riegelman, R., & Kirkwood, B. (2015). Public Health 101: Healthy People–Healthy Populations. Second edition. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.