The Growing Legitimation of Complementary Medicine in Australia: Successes and Dilemmas.

The Growing Legitimation of Complementary Medicine in Australia: Successes and Dilemmas.

In the late nineteenth century on the eve of the formation of Australia as a nation-state, the medical system in this emerging country could be best described as pluralistic in the sense that while regular or allopathic medicine constituted the predominant medical system, it was not clearly the dominant one. Regular physicians faced competition from a wide array of alternative practitioners. As regular medicine increasingly assumed the guise of being scientific, it evolved into biomedicine and developed a link with corporate and state interests in early twentieth century in Australia, just as was the case in other capitalist developed societies. Relying upon state support, biomedicine in Australia achieved dominance over alternative medical systems, such as homeopathy, herbal medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, and naturopathy. Alternative medical systems, however, often do not accept biomedical dominance and often seek to draw upon both support from satisfied patients as well as strategic elites in furthering their legitimation. Various social forces, particularly the development of the holistic health movement, served to challenge biomedical dominance in Australia, like elsewhere, beginning in the early 1970s. Since the 1980s certain heterodox medical systems, particularly chiropractic, osteopathy, acupuncture and Chinese medicine, naturopathy, and Western herbalism, have achieved considerable recognition from the Australian government, either at the federal level or the state level. Indeed, the Australian government appears to have gone further than any other Anglophone country in terms of providing public funding for complementary medicine (CM) education. Presented at the NHAA 6th International Conference on Phytotherapeutics, Canberra September 2007

The Growing Legitimation of Complementary Medicine in Australia: Successes and Dilemmas.



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