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By Sarah Cant

This comparative textual content examines the increase of non-orthodox medication and theorizes the altering nature of healthiness care in smooth societies. It engages with sociological debates on modernity and postmodernity, anthropological paintings.

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Extra resources for A New Medical Pluralism: Complementary Medicine, Doctors, Patients And The State

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Secondly, even if we use qualitative methods there are huge difficulties in studying decision-making when one is trying to unpick the way that some decisions have been made in retrospect. After all, to examine the point of choice is to isolate a moment in what is often an ongoing story of attempts to deal with illness and accounts will change with greater experience of the practitioner, the progress of the illness, etc. In other words, we must acknowledge that the account of resort to an alternative medical practitioner is part of an “illness narrative” (Kleinman 1988, Good 1994).

We know that the lay public have a wide range of frameworks that they use to make sense of illness episodes and that they use illness episodes to re-interpret their own biographies. These frameworks—such as a previous experience or the health of other family members—are not generally drawn upon by the biomedical doctor. In contrast, alternative medical practitioners usually spend a long time questioning the patients about their family, their lifestyle and environment (indeed questions can be so probing and seemingly irrelevant that new patients can feel perturbed about their 42 A NEW MEDICAL PLURALISM?

Featherstone (1991) has thus talked about the commercialization of healthy lifestyles and both Giddens (1991) and Shilling (1993) talk of the “body project” whereby people increasingly see the body as an unfinished project to be shaped by lifestyle choices. Indeed 26 A NEW MEDICAL PLURALISM? Shilling, drawing on Giddens, suggests that in times of risk and uncertainty, the body becomes a site where individuals can exert control: Investing in the body project provides people with a means of self expression and a way of potentially feeling good and increasing the control that they have over their bodies.

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