My health, my responsibility? Complementary medicine and self (health) care

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Journal Article
Journal of Sociology, 2014, 50 (4), pp. 515 - 530
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© The Author(s) 2012. People are increasingly compelled to take responsibility for their health and illness trajectories. The existing literature on what may be termed self-care points to the ways that public health initiatives have instigated the transfer of governance onto the individual through campaigns promoting physical activity and diet among other things. Meanwhile, cultural trends may have been enhanced and/or transformed by the increased prominence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) which often include a focus on self-determination and self-responsibility for achieving health and wellbeing. This article examines women’s contemporary self-care practices and the logics underpinning their approaches to health, illness and healing. Our findings show that although these women were often positive about the prospects of being autonomous decision-makers, their search for alternatives and practices of self (health) care can be problematic in certain cases and may be viewed as reproducing neoliberal forms of governance and their derivative inequalities.
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