From medical dominance to medical pluralism: Challenging scientific and technological dominance through reflexive choice





Creative Commons Licence


Contributed date

May 14, 2018 - 7:47pm

Critical Commentary

As illustrated in Foucault's critical analysis of modern medicine, this project endeavours to trace a genealogy of social studies that have examined development of science and technology in a domain of medicine and how it has impacted society. Since the Industrial Revolution scientific and technological advancement has had a significant impact on how society operates and manages our lives. Taking medicine (including advanced medical technologies) as an example, it has changed not only our ways of managing and understanding health and illness, but also how society treats (or discriminate) sick and healthy individuals. This exhibit starts with introducing studies that highlight how (bio)medicine/medical technology have come to dominate health systems and regulated health management through the lens of ‘medicalisation’. Medicine has enjoyed its power, authority and dominance since the rise of modern medicine in 19th century. However, rapid growth of information technologies and innovative technologies in conjunction with consumerism has provided great opportunity for lay individuals to be empowered to practice reflexive choice in health management. In this context they are no longer passive recipients of medical control. As a consequence, some culturally embedded health practices have been revised and revitalised at grass-root levels after the long lasting medical dominance, which is seen in the recent social movement of ‘medical pluralism’, including the growing popularity in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The author’s empirical research that looked into the use of anti-ageing medicine among older adults as a means of contesting medical control as a case study, this exhibit showcases how scientific ‘dominance’ can be challenged by expansion of knowledge through innovative technologies and empowerment through personal experiences, beliefs and values largely influenced by cultures.


Original book cover of Michel Foucault's book 'the Birth of the Clinic' 



Cite as

Michel Foucault, "From medical dominance to medical pluralism: Challenging scientific and technological dominance through reflexive choice", contributed by , STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 14 May 2018, accessed 1 October 2023.