The acupuncture wars: the professionalizing of American acupuncture--a view from Massachusetts
Medical anthropology 22(3): 261-301
ISSN/ISBN: 0145-9740 PMID: 12893542 DOI: 10.1080/01459740306772
Since the 1970s acupuncturists in the United States have confronted the dilemma of how to define themselves not only as practitioners in relation to an evolving Americanized version of Chinese medicine but also with respect to definitions of biomedical professional identity, which are currently in flux. The central issue is that of professionalization. This study traces the process of professionalization through the initial reception of the modality; the first steps toward specialized training; and the further steps through professional associations, credentialing, and licensing. This process takes place within the broader social frame of fluctuating definitions of biomedical professionalism. It is within this context that acupuncturists are assessing role definition, status, and compensation. Part of the process also involves the renewed use of the clinical trial and the potential co-opting of acupuncture. The potential for resistance is tied in with alliances with holistic physicians and with acupuncturists' own defense of pluralism.