Social Movements and the Transformation of American Health Care

By Jane C. Banaszak-Holl; Sandra R. Levitsky et al. | Go to book overview

13
Complementary and Integrative Medicine
in Medical Education:
The Birth of an Organized Movement

Michael S. Goldstein


Social Movements and Medicine

Studies of changes in health care and the medical profession have increasingly utilized a social movements approach. This perspective first emerged about fifty years ago in the work of Bucher and Strauss (1961), who recognized that professions were not homogeneous entities, but collections of subgroups that are in a constant state of flux as they vie for recognition, respect, and resources. Viewing these subgroups as social movements within a broader profession can be a fruitful for understanding how and why professions change.

Frickel and Gross (2005) set out criteria by which scientific/intellectual movements within a profession can be identified and differentiated from mere trends or changes that are constant in all social institutions. A true social movement sets out a coherent core set of beliefs that pose a significant challenge to the dominant way in which the profession carries out its work. The movement challenges received wisdom in the field, and its efforts encounter conflict and resistance from more traditional elements in the profession. Such movements do not exist merely on the intellectual or conceptual level, or in the actions of like-minded individuals. Rather, a movement requires organized collective action by networks of people who act politically (i.e., to change social institutions) by recruiting others and establishing their views within the reality of professional life and practice. Finally, scientific/ intellectual movements are “episodic”; they have beginnings and endings that can often be specified in terms of real events in the world (206–8).

However, most scholars who have employed the concept of a social movement to examine changes within the healthcare system have been not been primarily concerned

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