Are globalized social interactions accompanied by homogeneous or heterogeneous institutions? Which social factors are at work in each case? As an investigation of this cultural-institutional aspect of globalization, this article reflects on relationships between traditional-alternative medicine (TAM) and western-allopathic medicine (WAM) through a quantitative cross-national analysis. First, it is found that the global scene of medical institutional developments is characterized by institutional heterogeneity in which locally diverse TAMs develop simultaneously with WAM. This co-development relationship supports the heterogeneity thesis over the homogeneity thesis regarding the global character of national institutional developments. Second, this heterogeneous institutional arrangement is found to be stronger with a rising mortality burden. Third, this medical institutional heterogeneity is yet open to an antithetical development toward homogenization, depending on the extent to which the world polity pressure for WAM develops. However, the authors suggest a qualification of any notion of the unconditional significance of the world polity's homogenizing force.
Bibliographical note© The Author(s) 2011
- health care systems
- institutional diversity
- medical globalization
- medical plurality
- traditional-alternative medicine