Alternative medicine - Why do healthy individuals use it?

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Peter Clement Lund
4. term, Sociology, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis seeks to pose the question of why seemingly healthy individuals use alternative medicine
and treatments, and why the trend of using these has risen steadily during recent decades. Through a
combination of quantitative methods and theoretical discussions, this thesis seeks to answer this question.
The work is guided by Critical Realism, and thus the aim is to identify underlying societal mechanisms, that
have contributed to the rise in the use of alternative medicine. By using survey data concerning the health
and illness of the Danish population from 1987 to 2013, the thesis looks at the development in the use of
alternative medicine over time and, by comparing a time fixed effects regression with linear regressions for
each survey, examines what factors can be said to have effect on this use. Three such factors are identified:
An individual’s level of education, their gender, and their level of stress. Taking a closer look at the latter,
while also touching upon the first factor, the thesis then discusses these results theoretically with the
perspectives of Anthony Giddens, Hartmut Rosa, Anders Pedersen, and Rasmus Willig. I conclude that the
rise in the use of alternative medicine has moved, from in 1987 having been enabled by what Giddens calls
High-Modernity, to in 2013 having been enabled by what Rosa calls the society of acceleration and
augmented by what Petersen has dubbed the achievement-society. It is argued that the mechanisms within
capitalism has pushed the acceleration of society and therefore more individuals become stressed while they
simultaneously use alternative medicine as a form of deceleration and a way to enhance their achievement
Publication date8 Aug 2017
Number of pages80
ID: 261328900