The PhD Abstracts below were published in MSo Volumes 6, 7 & 8.

The holistic discourse and formalising education of non-medically qualified acupuncturists and homeopaths in England

Dr Assaf Givati, University of Portsmouth, UK

The overarching aim of this research study is to explore the way that Non Medically Qualified (NMQ) acupuncturists and homeopaths in England, as part of their efforts to professionalise and formalise their educational structures, negotiate holistic concepts that are embedded in their theory, practices and discourses. The thesis is the product of an in-depth, qualitative inquiry. Several data sets were used in this research: (1) Twenty-five in-depth interviews with acupuncturists and homeopaths in London and the South of England, including practitioners who are school principals and lecturers; (2) Participant observation of teaching a research methods unit in a BSc (Hons) Acupuncture in a private school for Chinese medicine; (3) A review of practitioners’ professional websites, of professional bodies’ educational and practice documents, and of 27 acupuncture and homeopathy course syllabi; and (4) Two non-participant observations of a day in an acupuncture practice and a day in a homeopathy practice.

Crucially, the holistic discourse which is interwoven in acupuncture and homeopathic philosophy, theory and practice, is a dynamic discourse, influenced by political and societal factors surrounding these therapies, as well as by the dynamics within the therapies themselves. This research study demonstrates the way practitioners ‘narrow’and ‘expand’ their holistic narratives and practices according to the challenges that they face during the process of professionalising and formalising their education, as well as in relation to their consumers’ expectations. This study suggests that the way by which practitioners often negotiate the tension that exists between increasing formalisation and the unique nature of their expert knowledge, can be described as ‘pragmatic holism’ through which practitioners try and make gains from the formalisation process, without losing their holistic approach and appeal. Furthermore, the entrance of Higher Education Institutions to the teaching of acupuncture and homeopathy courses seems to have accentuated some of the tensions that are part of the formalisation process, but it may also offer opportunities to increase practitioners’ critical reflectivity in relation to their holistic discourses and practices and to expand the scope of their holistic awareness.

Dr Assaf Givati
University of Portsmouth, UK

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Abstracts are published here as provided by the author and in the order in which we receive them.