By Sarah Cant
This comparative textual content examines the increase of non-orthodox medication and theorizes the altering nature of overall healthiness care in glossy societies. It engages with sociological debates on modernity and postmodernity, anthropological paintings.
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Specifically, raised reflexivity and knowledgeability on the part of the patient coupled with the increased distrust of expert knowledge (Giddens 1990, Beck 1992) may provide for a situation where the relationship between the patient and practitioner may change. The lessons from previous studies of the lay public and the changing social, political and cultural environment suggest important research questions regarding the alternative medical sector. In particular, which groups actually “consume” these services: are they more discerning and knowledgeable, are they distrustful of biomedicine?
Of course, there can never have been complete trust but has the faith in the medical profession declined and are users of alternative medicine more sceptical and concerned about biomedicine? Bakx (1991) has argued that biomedicine has lost the support of the lay public: biomedicine is in danger of losing both its actual and ideological hegemony: firstly, it has culturally distanced itself from the consumers of its services; secondly it has failed to match its propaganda polices with real breakthroughs; thirdly patients have become further alienated by negative physical and psychological experiences at the hands of the biomedical practitioners themselves.
The important point is that there are differences among users of alternative medicine as much as differences between users and nonusers. For example, when comparing users of osteopathy, homoeopathy and acupuncture (Vincent & Furnham 1996), homoeopathic patients were shown to value their involvement in the healing process to a far greater extent than the other users and the acupuncture users were the most concerned about the side effects of biomedical drugs. Such findings should caution us from making general statements about users of alternative medicine per se and encourage therapy specific analysis.
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