Acupuncture, science and Higher Education: negotiating competing paradigms and professional autonomy within British universities

Assaf Givati, Shelley Berlinsky

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Short Abstract
This project is designed to investigate the tensions that emerge as traditional acupuncture is taught within the University sector in Britain and is aligned with biomedical, scientific methods and knowledge.

Long Abstract
From the 1960s, in an effort to distance themselves from 'mainstream' biomedicine, many CAM practitioners adopted a 'holistic'/'anti-reductionist' rhetorical strategy, mirroring the counter-culture critique of biomedicine. However, since the 1980s, several major CAMs moved in the opposite direction, pursuing external legitimacy via 'mainstreaming' strategies including as the development of formal training programmes and accreditation procedures. This, in light of the authoritative position of biomedicine in society and its domination of medical knowledge, involved increasing biomedical content as part of CAM training and education. These emerging tensions, the product of bringing competing paradigms together, have to be managed bureaucratically through formal validation processes and practically by practitioners, academics and students.

This research project is set to examine the way these tensions are negotiated by acupuncture educators and their students, while exploring the role of universities is shaping acupuncture knowledge and practice.

Data collection for this qualitative study includes a) 15 in-depth interviews with traditional acupuncture programme leads and lecturers from both professionally accredited /university validated and professionally accredited /non-university validated programmes; b) two focus group discussions with acupuncture students on such courses; and c) textual documentary analysis of courses' syllabi. Data collection is at advanced stages and it is expected to be completed prior to April 2016. Ethical approval for the study was obtained from the Science Faculty Ethics Committee at the University of Portsmouth (SFEC-07-2015-­‐040).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
EventScience and Technology by Other Means: Exploring Collectives, Spaces and Futures - Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 31 Aug 20163 Sept 2016


ConferenceScience and Technology by Other Means
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