“Not Even All Physicians Know Chinese Medicine!”: Analysing the Legitimation Strategies of Chinese Medicine in the Estonian Media

Katre Koppel 1  and Marko Uibu 2
  • 1 Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
  • 2 Institute of Social Studies, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia

Abstract

To exemplify the legitimation processes of a pluralistic health field this article focuses on representations of Chinese medicine and its most popular spokes-person, Rene Bürkland, in the Estonian media. From 320 media texts published between 2009 and 2018 we chose 12 for close analysis with the aim of detecting specific discourses, untangling implicit meanings, and demonstrating the complexity of the rhetorical formulations used to legitimate Chinese medicine. We identified five key discourses – discourses of Bürkland’s charisma, holistic health, individual autonomy, subtle body, and integrative medicine – underpinning various legitimation strategies which aim to change the position of Chinese medicine from alternative to integrative. Our study reveals that the absence of scientific rhetoric together with key discourses has left Chinese medicine and its spokesperson without the attention of biggest critics of CAM and, therefore, has secured a positive image for Chinese medicine in the public discourse.

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