The pursuit of clinical recognition: Aesthetics, care, and music therapy in North American hospitals


This article examines the making of clinical care by tracing how music therapists integrate their work within North American hospitals. Situated on the margins of the clinic, music therapists are in pursuit of clinical recognition—to be perceived and understood as valuable to biomedicine. The pursuit of clinical recognition illustrates how the configuration of care is an aesthetic concern, negotiated not only through processes of reasoning and rationalization but also through sensory‐affective experiences. Music therapists cultivate a clinical aesthetic to their care by demonstrating clinical efficacy to their medical colleagues and self‐fashioning clinical subjectivities through participation in medical rounds and charting. While clinical recognition creates conditions of possibility for music therapists to provide care in biomedical institutions, recognition is perpetually elusive for hospital music therapists. By cultivating sonic atmospheres and connections, music therapists disrupt and exceed a normative clinical aesthetic, illustrating ways of caring in the clinic beyond biomedical scripts.