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Beyond belief? Consumer culture, complementary medicine, and the dis-ease of everyday life

Doel, Marcus A. and Segrott, Jeremy 2003. Beyond belief? Consumer culture, complementary medicine, and the dis-ease of everyday life. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 21 (6) , pp. 739-759. 10.1068/d290t

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The increasing popularity of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the West raises profound questions for social scientists, not least because it is as much about consumerism as it is about health care. Although the sociology of CAM is well developed, its geography remains almost wholly unexplored. In this paper we argue that one of the main reasons for this neglect is the fact that (post)medical geography has found it extremely difficult to come to terms with the disconcerting fusion of health care and consumer culture, and its dispersion across a vast array of materials and practices that are often far removed from the established concerns of the subdiscipline. Accordingly, in this paper we approach the dispersed geography of CAM through two key sources of consumer information: a range of 'popular' health-related magazines produced for the UK market, contextualized in relation to a sample of twenty-four British-based patient support groups. Specifically, we consider three critical issues that are shaping the mass mediation of CAM: the displacement of efficacy; the abrogation of authority; and the cultivation of anxiety. The paper concludes with a brief consideration of a profoundly geographical problem: the difficulty of constructing effective pathways through a profusion of disparate materials and practices in a context that is literally beyond belief.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
Publisher: Pion
ISSN: 0263-7758
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 06:16

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