Clean Living Movements: American Cycles of Health Reform

Front Cover
Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001 - Medical - 312 pages

Over the past 200 years, a health reform movement has emerged about every 80 years. These clean living cycles surged with, or were tangential to, a religious awakening. Simultaneously with these awakenings, out groups such as immigrants and/or youth were seen to exhibit behaviors that undermined society. Middle class fear of these dangerous classes and a desire to eliminate disease, crime, and other perceived health or social problems led to crusades in each of the three reform eras against alcohol, tobacco, drugs, certain foods, and sexual behaviors. A backlash began to emerge from some segments of the population against reform efforts. After the dissipation of the activism phase, laws made during the reform era often became ignored or repealed. With a few exceptions, during the 30 to 40 year ebb of the cycle, the memory of the movement disappeared from public awareness.

The desire for improved health and social conditions also led to campaigns in favor of exercise, semi-vegetarian diets, women's rights, chastity, and eugenics. Engs describes the interweaving of temperance, women's rights, or religion with most health issues. Factions of established faiths emerged to fight perceived immorality, while alternative religions formed and adopted health reform as dogma. In the reform phase of each cycle, a new infectious disease threatened the population. Some alternative medical practices became popular that later were incorporated into orthodox medicine and public health. Ironically, over each succeeding movement, reformers became more likely to represent grass roots beliefs, or even to be state or federal officials, rather than independent activists.


What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Is this book self-published? I see on page 143 that "Comstock was born in New Cannon, Connecticut." Huh? Do you mean "New Canaan"? How could there be such a glaring typo in a published book?


The First Clean Living Movement18301860
The Second Clean Living Movement18801920
The Third Clean Living Movement 19702005
References and Bibliography

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 4 - Awakenings — the most vital and yet most mysterious of all folk arts — are periods of cultural revitalization that begin in a general crisis of beliefs and values and extend over a period of a generation or so, during which time a profound reorientation in beliefs and values takes place.

About the author (2001)

RUTH CLIFFORD ENGS is Professor of Applied Health Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. Dr. Engs has published numerous articles and book chapters and is the editor of several works including Controversies in the Addiction Field (1990), Women: Alcohol and Other Drugs (1989), and author of Alcohol and Other Drugs: Self Responsibility (1987).

Bibliographic information