The dawn of Structural One Health: a new science tracking disease emergence along circuits of capital

Soc Sci Med. 2015 Mar;129:68-77. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.09.047. Epub 2014 Sep 28.


The One Health approach integrates health investigations across the tree of life, including, but not limited to, wildlife, livestock, crops, and humans. It redresses an epistemological alienation at the heart of much modern population health, which has long segregated studies by species. Up to this point, however, One Health research has also omitted addressing fundamental structural causes underlying collapsing health ecologies. In this critical review we unpack the relationship between One Health science and its political economy, particularly the conceptual and methodological trajectories by which it fails to incorporate social determinants of epizootic spillover. We also introduce a Structural One Health that addresses the research gap. The new science, open to incorporating developments across the social sciences, addresses foundational processes underlying multispecies health, including the place-specific deep-time histories, cultural infrastructure, and economic geographies driving disease emergence. We introduce an ongoing project on avian influenza to illustrate Structural One Health's scope and ambition. For the first time researchers are quantifying the relationships among transnational circuits of capital, associated shifts in agroecological landscapes, and the genetic evolution and spatial spread of a xenospecific pathogen.

Keywords: Avian influenza; Circuits of capital; Economic geography; Neoliberalism; Niche analysis; One Health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Animals
  • Birds
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control
  • Ecosystem
  • Global Health* / economics
  • Humans
  • Influenza in Birds / epidemiology
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Science / organization & administration*
  • Social Sciences* / organization & administration