From Alternative to Integrative: An Exploration of Acupuncture Within the Western Medical Paradigm


Sarah Spitz

Class Year


Access Type

Archival Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Sociology Department

First Advisor

Eileen Leonard

Second Advisor

William Hoynes

Third Advisor

Marque Miringoff


I argue that our current health care system—which is based in Western medicine—is inadequate, not only because it is costly, but because it is failing to keep individuals healthy. I posit that this is due to a number of factors, namely the consequences of institutionalization, professionalization, and the rise of medical authority. In this thesis, I explore Eastern medicine through the lens of acupuncture, an alternative to Western medicine both in its principles and practice. My argument is based on my research through personal interviews with four acupuncturists (two male and two female) and a review of relevant secondary sources. I argue that despite potential barriers, integrative medicine, a combination of both Western medicine and Eastern medicine, is the optimal approach to health care.

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