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