Sociological Studies of the Role of the Chiropractor

An Exercise in Ideological Hegemony?

Published In: Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, v. 14, no. 1, Jan 1991, p. 51-58

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1990

by Ian D. Coulter

This article presents a critique of the concept of marginal role as applied to chiropractors by examining the area of structural role theory from which the concept has been drawn. It suggests that the concept role was itself a reified concept and that its metaphorical extension to cover chiropractors constitutes a double jeopardy for health scientists. However, since all concepts are initially metaphorical ones, a methodology is required for distinguishing illegitimate from legitimate usage of metaphors, and reified from nonreified metaphors. Such a methodology establishes that: the metaphorical basis of the concepts has been lost; Researchers are using the concept role in realist terms; the metaphor has a related set of assumptions that are undefended and unexplained by role theorists and that have therefore gone underground; and the metaphor leaves out (suppresses) readily available evidence about the individual and society (i.e., is ideological in motive). Further, the article relates this process of theoretical reification to the broader social process of reification. It suggests that a sociology that proceeds in this way contributes significantly to the process of ideological hegemony, and in this instance, to medical dominance.

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