Introduction: Reconceptualising Complementary and Alternative Medicine as Knowledge Production and Social Transformation

  • Caragh Brosnan
  • Pia Vuolanto
  • Jenny-Ann Brodin Danell
Part of the Health, Technology and Society book series (HTE)


This introduction proposes new directions for the social science of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). It firstly reviews trends and gaps in the sociology of CAM, which has largely focussed on issues related to motivations for use, professionalisation struggles, and CAM’s relationship to biomedicine. CAM is more often treated as a signifier of social change than as a set of practices shaped by, and implicated in, epistemic and social transformations. By drawing on approaches from Science and Technology Studies (STS)—including actor-network theory and theories of boundary work, social worlds, co-production, and epistemic cultures—the chapter calls attention to CAM’s contingency, situatedness, materiality, and co-production within various spheres of governance and knowledge production. Such perspectives, it is argued, offer fruitful ways of comprehending what CAM is and how and why it is evolving.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caragh Brosnan
    • 1
  • Pia Vuolanto
    • 2
  • Jenny-Ann Brodin Danell
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Humanities and Social ScienceUniversity of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia
  2. 2.School of Social Sciences and HumanitiesUniversity of TampereTampereFinland
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden

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