The Social Epidemiology of Concussion: Too Much Information and Not Enough Knowledge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


The narrowness of citations across disciplines is one reflection of the trend of academic specialization and this dynamic is partly generated by endogenous forces – by the sheer volume of research output in the modern university in particular. But that is linked with exogenous forces. Scholars are coming under increasing pressure to adopt narrower perspectives and to focus their research more closely; from university administrations responding in turn to pressures from governments and from big business. In return for public and private investment, it is now nakedly demanded that research be immediately ‘useful’, that it be judged by its contribution directly to economic growth or to the solution of short-term social problems. This is what has partly inspired my sub title ‘too much information and not enough knowledge’. It applies to many research topics of course, but especially to concussion in my view, when we consider the kinds of information that are available on the injury, and why. One of the health issues, arguably the most important, sports-related brain injury, is the only injury that the International Rugby Board seeks to define, and along with blood injuries, is subject to specific regulation. This injury isn’t an easy one to weigh up, not that any injury necessarily is, but in the case of what we call concussion or velocity brain-shaking, there are life-threatening and complex consequences. With colleagues, I have written about some of the health compromises made around concussion as well as offering some insight into the problematic rationalisation of the injury, seen in quite irreverent terms by amateur rugby union players. Today I’d like to give a more tangible sense of the politics around concussion that I have experienced, and to take the opportunity to map out what I think are important questions that remain unanswered because of the social epidemiology of concussion and the continued deference towards a particular kind of knowledge that is assumed to be ‘better’ because it is generated by those in white lab coats and their variant.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherNot applicable
Number of pages19
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Dec 2017
EventPerformance Health: National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine - Loughborough University
Duration: 19 Dec 2017 → …


ConferencePerformance Health: National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine
Period19/12/17 → …


  • sport
  • health
  • concussion
  • pain
  • injury
  • policy


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  • Sports, Pain and Injury

    Liston, K., 30 Nov 2018, (Accepted/In press) The Business and Culture of Sports: Society, Politics, Economy, Environment. Maguire, J., Falcous, M. & Liston, K. (eds.). 1st ed. Gale, Vol. 2. p. 127-144 18 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

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