Social Theory & Health

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 250–272 | Cite as

An Ideal-Typical Development of Chiropractic, 1895–1961: Pursuing Professional Ends Through Entrepreneurial Means

  • Yvonne Villanueva-Russell


An ideal type distinction between professional and entrepreneurial orientations is presented, using the founding Palmer family and their Palmer School of Chiropractic to illustrate how ‘entrepreneurial’ means were used to pursue ‘professional’ ends. Although chiropractic desired the professional goals of autonomy, authority, social distinction, trust and service, it was unable and unwilling to pursue this by emulating the attributes and rewards set by orthodox medicine. Professional (and therefore medicalized) means such as social closure and licensure were eschewed in favor of antipodal entrepreneurial strategies such as status congruence and populist generalism. Chiropractic's proud, maverick pursuit of entrepreneurialism at times represented a more righteous commitment to the ideals and ends of professionalism than was actually displayed by orthodox medicine. For its first 60 years, chiropractic established itself as a separate and distinct occupation that not only refashioned what it meant to be professional, but demonstrated the innovative use of existing resources and the acumen of its founders.


alternative medicine chiropractic professionalization entrepreneurialism 



The author would like to thank Andrew C. Twaddle for his input and support on this research.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yvonne Villanueva-Russell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyTexas A&M University-CommerceCommerceUSA

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