Alternative Scientific Motherhood and Homeopathy
Daisy Fan(Graduate Institute of Humanities in Medicine, Taipei Medical University)
This study addresses the issue of how mothers (as medical users) utilize their resources to act and respond when they are dissatisfied with conventional health care for children. Focusing on a group of Taiwanese women with high social capital and strong preferences for natural lifestyles, I explore their decision-making processes for considering “homeopathy”, an alternative medical system, as a top healthcare choice for children. I introduce a concept of “alternative scientific motherhood” to illustrate their motherhood journey in which they shuttle back and forth from science to nature, from biomedicine to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Through in-depth interviews and participant observation, results of this study suggest that these mothers’ endorsements of homeopathy come from their beliefs in natural healing and the popularity of homeopathy in their affiliated communities. Even so, western medicine is never abandoned, and their understanding and reflection on modern science and medicine may rather serve to justify their unconventional choices. Meanwhile, it is important to note that in utilizing the strategy of “alternative scientific motherhood” combined with the action of “homeopathy first, western medicine second,” these mothers’ relatively privileged social status offers many necessary social, cultural, and economic resources, with which they maximize chances for success (e.g. children recover from illness without medication). Previous research indicates that participating in CAM empowers women. This study further extends previous findings by showing that motherhood with CAM can empower women as well. However, their empowerment is still limited to the scope of individual or community level, but does not relate to collective action to change healthcare and gender relations.
complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), homeopathy, alternative scientific motherhood, Waldorf education, empowerment