Systems of Healing 146.211
Understanding Basic Concepts
College of Humanities & Social Sciences
Plural Medical Systems
The term plural medical systems in the context of medical anthropology, refers to societies that have many distinct healing roles (Leslie, 1977). It is widely accepted that these healing roles fall into one of three categories - the popular health care sector, the folk sector and the professional health care sector (Kleinman, 1980). In such a society, people may seek more than one form of treatment from these sectors simultaneously or progress through alternatives in a more sequential manner. For this reason, Joraleman (2010) reminds us of the importance to not only consider the specific healing roles in their isolation, but also how they may interact with each other.
There are numerous examples of plural medical systems throughout the world, with many societies combining elements from different practices to form their own unique medical framework. With the spread of biomedicine on a global level, conventional western methods will often be deployed alongside those that are customary to the culture and beliefs of developing areas. Conversely, with increased awareness of alternatives to biomedicine in the western world (through internet access and education for example), it is not uncommon for people to explore and combine other forms of healing (such as acupuncture, meditation, herbal medicine) with more typical medical treatments.
Popular Health Care Sector
Kleinman describes the popular health care sector as “the lay, non-professional, non-specialist, popular culture arena in which illness is first defined and health care activities initiated” (1980). In simpler terms, it refers to a general body of knowledge available to everyone (Joralemon, 2010). The popular health sector...