Examining the social construction of health, illness, and wellness in anti-science communities
Mattlin, Meredith Paige
Anti-science movements are groups that oppose, either in behavior or ideology, normative allopathic medicine or science. Conventional medicine typically either rejects these groups or attempts outreach that often fails to resonate with them. Public health initiatives enacted by the state can create a contentious relationship with parts of the public, and there is little research about the resistance to power dynamics inherent in anti-science behavior or how these movements internally construct ideas about health. This ethnographic research, through interviews and content analysis of online data, explores how these groups view state-sanctioned medical authority as a form of power that threatens autonomy. It also explores the heterogeneity of these groups, and the varying voices that inform the aggregate picture the mainstream world often gleans from them. This study additionally outlines the ways these groups use, confront, and construct “truths” and “evidence,” along with how they conceptualize ideas surrounding illness and wellness. Finally, this research raises questions about the disconnection between normative ideas of illness and anti-science groups’ ideas of it, how medical authority is formulated, and how that authority ultimately reacts to these varying forms of anti-science sentiment.