Quackademia? Mass-Media Delegitimation of Homeopathy Education

Elizabeth Caldwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


In response to concerns about the standards of training for non-medically qualified homeopathic practitioners, between 1999 and 2009 a number of UK universities taught Bachelor of Science (BSc) degrees in homeopathy. All the courses were subsequently closed following media coverage of a vigorous campaign from scientists against the degree courses. A boundary-work analysis of 65 articles published in the UK print media reveals the use of metaphors from a number of different fields as rhetorical strategies to malign homeopathy education. As well as the commonly used contrasts of profit versus academic integrity, rationality versus faith and logic versus magic, media reports associated homeopathy with new universities and Mickey Mouse degrees, both of which had been denigrated in the press previously. In the press coverage, much attention was also drawn to the fact that the method of repeatedly diluting homeopathic medicines defies both logic and common sense, and the plausibility argument became a decisive blow in the debate over the legitimacy of teaching homeopathy as a science degree. It seems that the boundary work sought to protect the authority of both science and medicine by expelling homeopathy from higher education. These findings contrast with previous studies that suggest that orthodox medicine has occasionally expanded to incorporate desirable aspects of complementary and alternative therapies. Scientists carry out boundary work not just to demarcate the boundaries of science and directly defend their own interests, but also to protect the authority of other allied professions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-407
Number of pages28
JournalScience as Culture
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2017


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