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Bounding BiomedicineEvidence and Rhetoric in the New Science of Alternative Medicine$
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Colleen Derkatch

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226345840

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226345987.001.0001

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Professional Borders in Popular Media

Professional Borders in Popular Media

(p.147) 5 Professional Borders in Popular Media
Bounding Biomedicine

Colleen Derkatch

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines scientific boundary work in popular reporting on biomedical research on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), particularly a special report in Newsweek magazine on the “new science of alternative medicine.” It articulates a rhetoric of popular medicine vis-à-vis theoretical models of popular science developed in rhetoric, discourse studies, and social studies of science to argue that health reporting is both typical of and exceptional in science reporting: it is typical because medicine’s research values, generic forms, and institutional structures are closely aligned with those of science, yet it is exceptional because members of the public are significantly more invested as a rhetorical audience of medical reporting, due both to their own bodily experience and expertise, and to their need for health information. The chapter argues that CAM research demonstrates the bidirectional nature of science reporting, in contrast to the unidirectional model proposed by earlier theorists, because the major push for CAM research was motivated, in the first instance, by overwhelming public interest in and use of CAM therapies.

Keywords:   complementary and alternative medicine, popular science, popular medicine, rhetoric, boundary work

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