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Chinese Medical Concepts in Urban China

Change and Persistence

Martin Böke

Popular assertions proclaim a tradition of Chinese medicine spanning several thousand years. But is this really important for today’s China? Is Chinese medicine relevant for the modern, cosmopolitan urban Chinese today? And, as the political system has changed dramatically during the last century, do these changes influence people’s estimation of illnesses? Combining both a quintessential analysis of the relationship between emotions and health in different texts on Chinese medicine and empirical data consisting of quantitative and qualitative components, the author demonstrates that different social groups of urban dwellers share different opinions on Chinese medicine and its illness concepts, particularly those concepts commonly referred to as Seven Emotions. Education, age and gender are relevant categories for the evaluation of Chinese medicine, especially considering emotions such as stress or depression.
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7. Specific Answering Patterns

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In this chapter I combine the results of the survey with the expert interviews and analyse three main realms which emerged during the empirical phase of my work: first, age-specific peculiarities; second, education-specific peculiarities; and third, gender-specific peculiarities. It is worthwhile to analyse these three major domains in detail because the survey results and thus the common peoples’ estimations as well as the experts’ views all point in the same direction. In the subsequent paragraphs, these three domains are elaborated upon, complemented with explanatory approaches and linked to philosophical and sociological discourses on power and capital.

Age-specific Peculiarities: Changing Habitus and Different Modes of Power

Throughout the whole study, one can detect that age is an important variable for the estimation of certain aspects of Chinese medicine: younger Chinese urban inhabitants faced the questionnaire more openly and were more confident regarding their knowledge of Chinese medicine compared to older people.132 This is not an emic impression; medical practitioners also regarded younger Chinese to be more interested in traditional elements of Chinese culture and therefore also more open to Chinese medicine than older people.

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