In this article, the authors address the boundaries of institutional structures, the dynamics of their configuration, and the nature of their permeability. The authors explored these issues in Israel, where the changing relationship of bio- and alternative medicine elucidates recent processes of professional boundary redefinition. They used qualitative methods to analyze in-depth interviews in clinics and hospitals where alternative and biomedical practitioners work under the formal auspices of publicly sponsored biomedical organizations. The findings show an incursion by alternative practitioners into territories viewed until fairly recently as the exclusive domain of biomedicine. However, the "alternatives" are not defined as regular staff members, and their marginality is elucidated by a variety of visible structural, symbolic, and geographical cues. The authors used decoupling theory in interpreting the findings. Changed boundary contours signal underlying processes of social change that could have meaningful implications in defining membership criteria in the biomedical community.
- Integrative medicine