CAM within a field force of countervailing powers : The case of Portugal. / Almeida, Joana; Gabe, Jonathan.

In: Social Science & Medicine, Vol. 155, 04.2016, p. 73-81.

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Abstract

This paper examines the extent to which the position of the medical profession and the state towards complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners has changed since the late 1990s, taking Portugal as a case study. Using Light’s concept of countervailing powers, we consider the alliances, interests, rhetoric and degrees of control between these three actors over time, focusing particularly on the extent to which CAM practitioners have acted as a countervailing force in their relationship with the medical profession and the state. It also brings to the fore the position of supra-state agencies concerning CAM regulation. A critical discourse analysis was conducted on data derived from a systematic search of information dating from the late 1990s up to 2015. Our analysis suggests that CAM has emerged as an active player and a countervailing power in that it has had significant influence on the process of state policy-making. The medical profession, in turn, has moved from rejecting to ‘incorporating’ CAM, while the state has acted as a ‘broker’, trying to accommodate the demands and preferences of both actors while simultaneously demonstrating its power and autonomy in shaping health policy. In sum, the history of countermoves of CAM, the medical profession and the state in recasting power relations regarding CAM regulation in Portugal has highlighted the explanatory value of Light’s countervailing power theory and the need to move away from a professional dominance and corporatist approach, in which CAM has simply been seen as subjugated to the power of the medical profession and the state.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-81
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Volume155
Early online date3 Mar 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016
This open access research output is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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