Fluid Boundaries: Conventional and Complementary/Alternative Medicine Examined

By Ana Ning.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The aim of this article is to interrogate the pervasive dichotomization of “conventional” and “alternative” therapies in popular, academic and medical arenas. Specifically, I rethink concepts such as holism, vitalism, spirituality, natural healing and individual responsibility for health care as taken-for-granted alternative ideologies. I explore how these ideologies are not necessarily “alternative”, but integral to the practice of clinical medicine as well as socially and culturally dominant values, norms and practices related to health and health care in Canada and elsewhere. These reflections address both theoretical and applied concerns central to the study of integration of different medical practices in Western industrialized nations such as Canada. Overall, in examining both biomedicine and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as homologous symbolic systems with overlapping and diverse ideological constructs, this article sheds light on the potential for enhancing dialogue between diverse perspectives to facilitate an integrative health care system that meets multiple consumer needs.

Keywords: Biomedicine, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Homologies, Integrative Health Care, Canada

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.161-176. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 978.332KB).

Ana Ning

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, King’s University College at the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Ana Ning has a broad range of academic interests. Originally trained as a social anthropologist, her teaching, research and publishing activities are committed to interdisciplinary scholarship that integrates academic and community needs. Her published research has focused on the areas of addiction and mental health and complementary and alternative health care with wider application in public policy and clinical settings. While her published research has focused on health-related issues, her interests and perspectives are also relevant to diverse topics including social theory, crime, social control, as well as culture, gender and ethnic social relations. Her own multicultural background with lived experiences in East Asia, Africa and Europe prior to settling in Canada is well suited to her work with multicultural and multilingual populations.