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The Overcompensating Sociologists of Public Health

Reflexivity. That's a word very dear to sociologists. It just means how we look at the world is influenced by who we are. But like many things sociology, you give it a word and then you make a big deal out of it.

So much that some of the sociologists reading this post are already raising their hand saying "Hey, but you're talking about 'positionality'. Reflexivity is actually about how we take into consideration our positionality in our research".

Shouldn't the fact that how we look at the world is influenced by who we are automatically also mean that we should be cognizant of that and take that into consideration in our research? Apparently sociologists can't do that automatically without having a different word for it.

Or maybe they can and I'm just stereotyping them. After all, my identities put me in the positionality of an anti-academic-sociologist.

This post is not about sociologists who don't care about the world. And therefore I am not going to write about how there are some of them who just keep doing esoteric debates funded by public money in public universities.

This post is not about the superficiality of academia. And therefore I am not going to write about the publication game.

This post is about the sociologists who overcompensate for their identities.

It starts with privilege. By their very nature, there are a lot of people in academics and sociology who come from very privileged backgrounds. For some of them, academics might have led to their understanding of their own privileges. This can probably explain why they keep going back to jargon to describe the plight of the world, because it appears that without the words given to them by academics they find it hard to understand or describe the wrongs in the world.

My conjecture is that when they look at a subject like traditional medicine in the context of pluralist health system in India, they go "Oh, I'm from a privileged background and therefore I should compensate for my biases against traditional medicine. I shouldn't be part of the 'undemocratic', 'elitist', and 'self-centered' biomedical field of this country, I should rather side with the 'downtrodden'" because I cannot imagine any other reason for one to claim that traditional medicine being sidelined as "unscientific" is because of the "political economy of knowledge production" and that scientific community has to devise ways to legitimize traditional medicine.

Modern medicine has several problems. The practice of modern medicine is riddled with problems too. Knowledge production in modern medicine has a definite politics. But to use these as arguments to promote traditional medicine is a sophisticated form of whataboutery. And some of these academicians do this as well so as to talk about traditional medicine.

I call these people "the overcompensating sociologists of public health". Their "solidarity with the oppressed" is more about their own struggles than about the struggles of the people. They would rather stick to their arguments romanticizing traditional medicine (getting applause from the cult of anti-science orientalists) and have people die eating roots and leaves than have their praxis in the form of advocating for better access to quality healthcare.


Prabir said…
Well done- this time it makes sense- not just angry rant. I am interested in trad med from about the same time. Partly influenced by a senior whose severe back oain responded to treatment at AVR Coimbatore. But also later my experience with a Siddha doctor

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Akshay S Dinesh
I am a general practitioner rooted in the principles of primary healthcare. I am also a deep generalist and hold many other interests. If you want a medical consultation, please book an appointment When I'm not seeing patients, I code software, advise health-tech startups, and write blogs. Follow me by subscribing to my writings

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