Belliard, J., & Ramirez, J. Medical pluralism in the life of a Mexican immigrant woman," (2005). Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences 27(3), 267-285. ( 8/2005 )
This case study reflects on the variety of approaches to health care in a pluralistic immigrant urban enclave in Southern California. In-depth interviews were conducted with a Mexican immigrant woman in San Bernardino, California to explore and understand her health worldview and the strategies she uses in deciding among the diverse healthcare options available to protect and maintain her family?s health. Kleinman?s typology of health sectors (professional, folk, and popular) is applied to the popular healing practices of the key informant and her own health-seeking behaviors. These expose the conflict between a professional community that relies on categories and binary comparisons, and the existence of multiple, simultaneous healthcare sectors. While the literature on traditional healers focuses on the folk sector and its visible healing structures, activities like curanderismo, research on the role and importance of lay healing practices is limited. This case study highlights the paradoxical world of health and illness in a pluralistic medical setting and how those who reside in an environment where medical syncretism exists apparently see their options very differently from their professional healthcare providers.