Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Brosnan, C., Tickner, C., Davies, K., Heinsch, M., Steel, A., Vuolanto, P.
The salutogenic gaze: Theorising the practitioner role in complementary and alternative medicine consultations
(2023) Sociology of Health and Illness.

DOI: 10.1111/1467-9566.13629

Research on why people use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) shows clients value the CAM consultation, where they feel listened to and empowered to control their own health. Such ‘empowerment’ through CAM use is often theorised as reflecting wider neoliberal imperatives of self-responsibility. CAM users’ perspectives are well studied, but there has been little sociological analysis of interactions within the CAM consultation. Specifically, it is unclear how user empowerment/self-knowledge relates to the CAM practitioner’s power and expert knowledge. We address this using audio-recorded consultations and interviews with CAM practitioners to explore knowledge use in client-practitioner interactions and its meaning for practitioners.

Based on our analysis and drawing on Foucault (1973), The Birth of the Clinic: an archaeology of medical perception and Antonovsky (1979), Health, Stress and Coping, we theorise the operation of power/knowledge in the CAM practitioner-client dyad by introducing the concept of the ‘salutogenic gaze’. This gaze operates in the CAM consultation with disciplining and productive effects that are oriented towards health promotion. Practitioners listen to and value clients’ stories, but their gaze also incorporates surveillance and normalisation, aided by technologies that may or may not be shared with clients. Because the salutogenic gaze is ultimately transferred from practitioner to client, it empowers CAM users while simultaneously reinforcing the practitioner’s power as a health expert. © 2023 The Authors. Sociology of Health & Illness published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness.

Author Keywords
clinical consultations; complementary and alternative medicine; Foucault; patient empowerment; power/knowledge; salutogenesis

Index Keywords
alternative medicine, archeology, article, consultation, drawing, gaze, health promotion, human, human experiment, interview, patient empowerment, perception, physician, physiological stress

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: