A Diagnosis for Our Times

Alternative Health, from Lifeworld to Politics

By Matthew Schneirov & Jonathan David Geczik

Subjects: Political Science
Series: SUNY series in the Sociology of Culture
Paperback : 9780791457320, 242 pages, June 2003
Hardcover : 9780791457313, 242 pages, June 2003

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Table of contents



1. The Study of Alternative Health

2. Biomedicine and the Loss of Meaning

3. Between the Aura and the Commodity

4. Technologies of the Self

5. New Social Movements

6. From Alternative to Complementary Medicine




Explores Americans' increasing attraction to alternative medicine by looking at two alternative health networks, one "New Age," the other conservative Christian.


Despite having one of the most advanced systems of medicine in the world, American consumers are increasingly turning to alternative medicine. Through a study of two alternative health networks, one "New Age" and the other conservative Christian, A Diagnosis for Our Times examines the health regimes followed by clients of alternative practitioners, the way people find meaning in non-Western and pre-modern health traditions, and the relationship between alternative health and other movements for change. In sharp contrast with other work on this subject, this book characterizes alternative health as a social movement and a "cultural laboratory" where people discover new values and new ways of living that may have larger implications. The authors discover surprising commonalities between the cultural left and the religious right when it comes to healthcare, and they evaluate the potential of alternative health to contribute to a new healthcare paradigm.

Matthew Schneirov is Associate Professor of Sociology at Duquesne University. He is the author of The Dream of a New Social Order: Popular Magazines in America, 1893–1914. Jonathan David Geczik (1942–2001) was Professor of Political Science at the Community College of Allegheny County.


"Treating alternative health as a new social movement is a very good strategy. The theory employed here is both helpful and innovative, and the ideas of Habermas, Benjamin, and Foucault are all used very effectively to explain what alternative medicine is, how it works, and why it is seen as helpful to so many people." — Joseph E. Davis, editor of Stories of Change: Narrative and Social Movements