Week 7: CAM as a Reflection of Social Relations

The past two weeks our readings have focused on the relationship between the Holistic Health movement and the New Age movements, and their influence on the development of complementary and alternative medicine in the 1970’s.

Our focus now shifts to contemporary expressions of CAM. This week we’ll explore a more complicated and nuanced view of who consumes CAM, and why, while also focusing on Baer’s theory of resistance and accommodation in the modern context of CAM practices. Then our exploration shifts to the contemporary manifestations and historical developments of CAM that is inspired by Dharmic (Asian) religious healing systems. 


Discussion Group: 

Discussion Group Notes #3 is due on Sunday, March 1 

Midpoint Self- and Peer- Reflection is also due on Sunday, March 1 via iCollege Assignments

Make sure you read the assignment details and understand my expectations for comments on your self- and peer- participation. Reflections that lack detail, or indicate participation by students that were clearly not present, will be returned and a “zero” assigned until the issues are remedied. 

I suggest you make a copy of the attached document and type directly into the worksheet. Save it as a PDF and submit the reflection to the corresponding iCollege submission folder. 


Choice Projects: 

Keep updating the Project Progress Googlesheet and your individual project pages. 

If I comment on your project pages, make sure you respond promptly. If you need my immediate feedback (such as approval before scheduling to attend a healing session), email me directly in addition. 


Reflection Journals: 

This is a friendly reminder that you should continue to post on EduBlogs at least once a week. At this point, you should have, at minimum, 5 or 6 substantial reflections. 


Reading Prompts: 

I realized that I included the wrong reading on the syllabus. I’ve attached the appropriate reading (the last) and uploaded it to iCollege. 

“The American Dominative Medical System as a Reflection of Social Relations in the Larger Society”, Hans A Baer, (pg 1103-1111) – iCollege

  • How does Baer define “medical pluralism” ?
  • According to Baer, when does the corporate class and state sponsors support alternative medicine? 
  • In your own words, describe the relationship between biomedicine and corporate capitalism that Baer highlights. 
  • What is “social medicine”? 
  • What were some of the unintended consequences of the Flexner report?
  • Describe how the social classes are distributed throughout the biomedical workforce. 
  • According to Baer, what does professionalization provide to CAM providers / healers? 
  • Despite their almost indistinguishable original approaches to healing, how did Osteopathy and Chiropractic diverge in the 20th century to their modern manifestations? 
  • What is the Holistic Health movement as a whole (mainly white, middle class population) protesting? 
  • Despite the counter-culture tendencies of CAM, what similar traits to biomedicine does it exhibit (accommodation)? 
  • If we apply Baer’s theory of protest and accommodation to other communities’ use of CAM, what conclusions do you assume that we’ll be able to draw? 


“Beyond the Barriers: racial discrimination and the use of complementary and alternative medicine among Black Americans”, Tetyana Pylypiv Shippee, Markus H Scharfer, and Kenneth F Ferraro, (pg 1155-1162) – iCollege

  • How do the authors of this article define and differentiate the concepts of “major discrimination” and “everyday discrimination”? Which do they focus on in their study? 
  • Page 1156 describes various minority status communities that self-report discrimination and higher use of CAM. What does this tell use about CAM generally, and how does this relate to Baer’s theory? 
  • What are some of the potential outcomes of discrimination in the healthcare setting? 
  • What is this study’s conclusion about any type of discrimination (whether within medical care setting or not) and CAM use by Black folks?
  • Why would CAM appeal in the specific context of Black Americans? What might these users be resisting? Why might CAM be appealing in this context? 
  • What are the limitations noted in the study? 

“How Does Acculturation Affect the Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Providers Among Mexican- and Asian- Americans?”, Jennifer H. Lee, Michael S. Goldstein, E. Richard Brown, Rachel Ballard-Barbash,  (page 302-309) – iCollege

  • Why did the authors of this study pick chiropractic, massage, curanderos and acupuncturists / traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners to focus on? 
  • What were the main takeaways of this study’s results? In relation to Mexican-American immigrants? In relation to Asian-American immigrants?
  • The results of this study are a bit messy and complicated. What can this tell us about our assumptions about CAM use? 




  • Social medicine 
  • Major discrimination (systematic discrimination)
  • Everyday discrimination
  • Agentic Action
  • Acculturation
  • Bicultural identity
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