This introductory chapter lays out the major themes and context that will supplement discussion in the succeeding chapters. It considers the implications of the linkages between health and politics and what they might mean for America's present and future. At the same time the chapter also turns toward the past, to San Francisco's early public health initiatives, in order to illuminate ideologies and agencies concerned with human disease, public health, and medical practice. The chapter then launches into a broader discussion on emotions and sentiment—particularly of aversive emotions such as fear and disgust—in order to set up the context upon which this study is based—on the plasticity and contingency of emotion-driven behaviors as they manifest themselves in the moral and political judgments that human beings make in confronting and seeking to control contagious diseases.
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