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Performing and Experiencing Competing Categories: A Study of Medical Acupuncture Open Access


Other title
medical acupuncture
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Crumley, Ellen T.
Supervisor and department
Reay, Patricia (Trish) (Strategic Management and Organization)
Examining committee member and department
Lawrence, Tom (Management and Organizational Studies)
Spiers, Judith (Jude) (Faculty of Nursing)
Washington, Marvin (Strategic Management and Organization)
Cooper, David (Accounting, Operations and Information Systems)
Faculty of Business
Strategic Management and Organization
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Business Administration
Degree level
This qualitative case study develops our understanding about the micro-processes of change. Categories are socio-cognitive constructs that group similar things and concepts. We use and interpret categories to understand identity and the relationships between items and concepts. Categories help us understand both change and stability in fields. Change occurs when categories die out, are constructed, re-worked or interpreted in different ways. This research suggests that categories are experienced and performed in everyday work and passed on to others through our interactions. The analysis also highlights that we can gain new insights by examining bottom-up change at the micro-level. Through examining western medical acupuncture (WMA) and Traditional Chinese Medicine medical acupuncture (TCM-MA) in western health care, this dissertation sheds light on how professionals sustain competing categories by performing and experiencing them in different ways. The mixed-methods analysis of interviews, journal articles and textbooks revealed seven micro-processes that best explain the sustaining of competing categories: 1. Describing medical acupuncture with different meaning systems, 2. Learning and teaching different approaches, 3. Conducting research in different ways, 4. Altering work processes, rationale and content, 5. Deepening relationships with clients, 6. Viewing their professional identity (dis)similarly and 7. (Re)Drawing the boundary between personal and professional identity. Together, these micro-processes highlight the different ways that different groups of professionals perform and experience competing categories by: (re)assembling meaning systems, performing techniques and practices and (re)conceptualizing identity. It is implicit in the categories literature that the existence of competing categories is a temporary state and that one category will become dominant. In contrast to the literature, my dissertation research found that competing categories are sustained by different groups who perform and experience their category in different ways. This research contributes to the growing literature about categories and the micro-processes of change.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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