In this dissertation, I examine how CAM is discursively constructed in four major biomedical journals, The Journal of the American Medical Association, Nature, Science, and The New England Journal of Medicine, and three widely known women's popular health media sites, The Dr. Oz Show, Women's Health magazine, and Prevention magazine, and argue that risk is a major trope in the construction of CAM. In my analysis, I found that medical journals use risk discursively to circumscribe the extent to which CAM is accepted in the mainstream medical community and to reinforce institutional boundaries. In women's popular health media, I found that risk is used discursively to reinforce the importance of conventional beauty standards while also supporting CAM as a valid supplement to conventional medicine by emphasizing how using CAM may enhance or improve health. Finally, I argue that although medical journals use the risk of CAM to validate professional norms, and women's health media conflate health and appearance using CAM, women's popular health media also provide specific examples of resistance against both the construction of the riskiness of CAM by medical journals and the patriarchal discourses that inflect the popular media's coverage of CAM.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation.January 2014. Major: Communication Studies. Advisor: Mary Douglas Vavrus. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 259 pages.
The discursive construction of complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in women's popular health media and medical journals.
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