Joana Almeida undertook her Mildred Blaxter fellowship from October 2013 to September 2014 at the Centre for Criminology & Sociology, Royal Holloway, University of London, having undertaken her PhD in Medical Sociology at the same institution. Since December 2014 she has been a Teaching Fellow in Sociology at Royal Holloway.
What was the focus of your work?
I am a sociologist with interests in health and illness, the professions, gender and education. My Mildred Blaxter fellowship’s project title was: ‘Towards the Camisation of Health? A Theoretical and Empirical Framework for Analysis’. This project was a follow-up to my doctoral thesis, which was about the changing relationship between complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners, the medical profession and the state in Portugal since the late 1990s. During my fellowship:
- I produced one book chapter and three peer-reviewed articles from my doctoral research published in Social Science & Medicine, Health and Sage Research Methods
- I disseminated my PhD findings at international and UK conferences
- I developed the notion of ‘camisation’, a concept that I introduced in my PhD thesis concerning the increasing colonisation of human problems by CAM therapies and practitioners.
My aim has been to develop a theoretical framework for analysing future empirical research on CAM. Being awarded a Mildred Blaxter fellowship provided me with invaluable resources (time, supervision, space, finances) to advance the construction of theory and analyse CAM dynamics in Western societies – a task that is still in progress!
What did the Mildred Blaxter fellowship offer you that you would not otherwise have been able to do?
The fellowship gave me the extraordinary opportunity to spend one year preparing and planning journal publications from my PhD under the supervision of Professor Jonathan Gabe. It also allowed me to attend seven international and UK conferences where I communicated and disseminated my PhD findings and also established networks and new collaborations with other researchers with similar research interests. As a result, I am now working with Brazilian and UK colleagues on comparative research on CAM governance in healthcare and also in higher education.
What are you doing now?
I have been a Teaching Fellow in Sociology in the School of Law, Centre for Criminology & Sociology, Royal Holloway, since I finished my Mildred Blaxter fellowship. I have started collaborative research with Dr Givati from the University of Portsmouth, UK, and with Professor Nelson Filice de Barros and Dr. Pâmela Siegel from the University of Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil. We are comparing and analysing CAM governance in these countries. In June 2016 I was awarded, together with Professor Jonathan Gabe from Royal Holloway, internal research funding to conduct a pilot-study on the use of CAM by women with breast cancer, in collaboration with Mr John Anderson and Dr Kavi Sharma from the Brighton & Sussex Medical School. I am also undertaking a systematic review, together with Dr Cristina Santos from the Open University, on the value of an intimate relationship. These are pilot studies which will be used to support future applications to external funding bodies.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying for a Mildred Blaxter fellowship?
In times of austerity, I feel very privileged to have been awarded a Mildred Blaxter postdoctoral fellowship. My main advice to future successful applicants is to take full advantage of the year they have been given to prepare, plan and submit as many publications as they can from their PhD research, and to develop new ideas to follow on from their PhD research which could provide the basis for future research funding applications.
- Gabe, J. and Almeida, J. (2015). Anthony Giddens: structuration, drug use, food choice and long-term illness. In F. Collyer (ed.) The Palgrave Handbook of Social Theory in Health, Illness and Medicine. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 424-438.
- Almeida. J. and Gabe, J. (2016). CAM within a field force of countervailing powers: the case of Portugal. Social Science & Medicine 155: 73-81.
- Almeida, J. (2016). Complementary and alternative medicine’s occupational closure in Portuguese healthcare: contradictions and challenges. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine. 20(5): 447-464.
- Almeida, J. (2017). Complementary and alternative medicine’s attempts at occupational closure: a thematic analysis driven by grounded theory. SAGE Research Methods Cases Health Part 2.