Informality and Urban Medical Practices

  • Michel S. Laguerre


In the San Francisco-Oakland Metropolitan Area, informal medical practices exist side by side with the formal medical system. In fact, it is possible to misunderstand the relations of the residents to the formal system of medical care if one does not take into consideration the reality of informal health and medical practices. Informal medical practices show up at the level of understanding of the causes of illness (lay logic), diagnostics (the folk medical realm to which the illness belongs), the search for an appropriate form of healing (self-care, spiritual or folk healing, the hospital or private clinic), and the implementation of the regimen (the extent to which the patient follows the recommendation of the medical doctor to the letter, accepts the spirit of the recommendation, or else rejects it altogether). There is another arena where informal medical practices could be studied here — that of the hospital as a bureaucracy in terms of informal networking among staff, the spread of gossip, the reality of informal communication and the clique system. Since some of these issues were discussed in the context of the modern firm, we will not pursue them vigorously here. Let us concentrate rather on other aspects of the formal—informal relations in medicine so as to show how informal health and medical practices serve as a support to the formal system.


Aspirin Peri Arena Folk Cough 


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Copyright information

© Michel S. Laguerre 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michel S. Laguerre
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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