Bodies of knowledge: nature, holism and women’s plural health practices

Meurk, Carla, Broom, Alex, Adams, Jon and Sibbritt, David (2012) Bodies of knowledge: nature, holism and women’s plural health practices. Health, 17 3: 300-318. doi:10.1177/1363459312447258

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Author Meurk, Carla
Broom, Alex
Adams, Jon
Sibbritt, David
Title Bodies of knowledge: nature, holism and women’s plural health practices
Journal name Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1363-4593
Publication date 2012
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/1363459312447258
Open Access Status
Volume 17
Issue 3
Start page 300
End page 318
Total pages 19
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Sage Publications
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Abstract The proliferation of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and women’s high level of engagement with these practices, has presented sociology with a range of questions regarding gender, embodiment and identity work in the context of contemporary medical pluralism. The current study, drawing on 60 qualitative interviews with women from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH), examines how a group of Australian women negotiate CAM and biomedicine in a range of health and illness contexts. Selected from the mid-aged cohort of this national study, here we explore their accounts of engagement with CAM and biomedicine, unpacking their logics underpinning, and rhetorical practices surrounding, their therapeutic engagement. The results provide significant insight into: the importance of ideas about nature, holism and strengthening; perceptions of the harshness and softness of medicines for women’s bodies; and, the relative importance of scientific proof vis-a-vis individual subjectivities. Ultimately, their accounts illustrate gendered and embodied strategies of strategic integration, and importantly, border crossing. We conclude that while women’s engagement with CAM and biomedicine may be indeed be gendered in character, we suggest a rethinking of gender-based resistance (to biomedicine) or gender-alignment (to CAM) arguments; the notion of women as designers would more adequately capture the landscapes of contemporary medical pluralism.
Keyword Ageing and life course
Complementary and alternative medicine
Experiencing illness and narratives
Gender and health
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online before print September 6, 2012

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: UQ Centre for Clinical Research Publications
Official 2013 Collection
School of Social Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 6 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 5 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Fri, 16 Nov 2012, 11:32:33 EST by Debbie Lim on behalf of School of Social Science