Homeopathy within Russia Healthcare: the Challenges of Professionalisation
This article is based on the results of research into the professional status and professionalisation of homeopathy in Russia. The theoretical framework is based on the connection of concepts such as social closure, autonomy and professionalisation, which accords to the Anglo-Saxon tradition of studying professions. This framework helps analyze some of the parameters of professional homeopaths’ status, namely the economic, power-related and socio-cultural aspects. The examination is based on qualitative and quantitative data obtained from semi-structured interviews with homeopaths and a survey conducted by the author at the Annual Moscow Conference of Homeopathy as well as information gained in the course of the secondary data analysis. The survey was used, in part, to clarify and add to the questions that had arisen in the interviews. In order to define the level of individual autonomy among homeopaths we developed quantitative indicators. The data demonstrates that the economic status of Russian homeopathy specialists is relatively low, that professional associations play a limited role in the self-regulation of the group, and that the mechanisms of social closure are weak. All this hinders homeopaths’ professionalisation. Nonetheless, homeopaths find a sufficiently high level of individual autonomy as homeopathic practice is not strictly standardised. Today homeopaths as a group face the choice between two professionalisation strategies. One offers the standardisation of homeopathy, which will allow it to better integrate into conventional medicine but threatens ordinary homeopathy practices with a loss of autonomy. Another strategy proposes the rejection of standardisation and integration, instead focusing on the preservation of the unique identity and autonomy of the practice. The choice to move in one direction or the other is a dilemma for homeopaths as each option possesses its own advantages and restrictions.