Environmental context and social relationships: A relational perspective on health disparities

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

Publication Title

Advancing developmental science: Philosophy, theory, and method


Recent research findings have documented the important role of environmental factors in life span biopsychosocial development (Antonucci, Birditt, & Ajrouch, 2011; Glymour, Ertel, & Berkman, 2009). This research has identified the environment as a significant source of vulnerability and resilience, thereby highlighting its critical role in shaping the development of health disparities across groups (e.g., racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, etc.). Despite theoretical advancements and methodological innovations in the study of social relations, and a growing body of research documenting their influence on health disparities across the life span, there is still a fundamental lack of knowledge regarding how characteristics of the environment intertwine with social relations to play a role in this process.

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