Center for Interpretive and Qualitative Research
(CIQR -- "seeker")*

NEXT MEETING: Thursday, September 19, 2002 4:00 — 5:30 p.m. Berger Gallery, 207 College Hall
All interested faculty, graduate students, and other parties are invited.

Professor Matt Schneirov
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Department of Sociology “Beyond the Culture Wars: The Politics of Alternative Health”

ABSTRACT: Beyond the Culture Wars: The Politics of Alternative Health. In this paper we examine two alternative health networks, one "New Age" and the other conservative Christian through the lens of new social movement theory. Our approach is to understand this phenomenon as a "new social movement," one which is not primarily focused on strategic action in the polity but as a "cultural laboratory," where people experiment with new ideas, identities and health practices. Despite obvious differences in cultural style and politics, common health practices draw members of both networks together into a shared critique of elements of the modern world. We claim that both networks share a discourse which is antibureaucratic and partially critiques the commodification of everyday life. On the level of the lifeworld, this suggests a value shift that may provide the basis for a critique of "progress" and its costs. The traditional left-right divide does not capture what is going on here, since the debate in mainstream politics is about how to distribute the fruits of progress, not its desirability.


Professor Matt Schneirov, Dept. of Sociology, presented a paper entitled, “Beyond the Culture Wars: The Politics of Alternative Health.” Most participants had read the paper. After a short summary of its main points by Professor Schneirov, both participants who had time to read the paper and those who had not enjoyed an in-depth, appreciative and critical discussion of its main themes. More than 30 people attended the event.