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Lacking compassion – sociological analyses of the medical profession

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ruth Graham



Medical sociology has offered many accounts of the social context of the medical profession at both macro- and micro-levels. However, a dominant critical trend in social thought means that these accounts of the medical profession tend to focus on criticism at the expense of a more balanced critique of the social phenomenon in question. While criticism of the medical profession has been important in developing our understandings of how power, health and medicine operate, the emotional and personal implications for staff of undertaking responsibility for unpleasant tasks has been relatively neglected. In this paper, I draw on my experience in three areas of research that relate to medical practice: male rape, dentistry and feticide. I argue that the inclusion of a more compassionate perspective on the medical profession's engagement with such problems is crucial if sociological work on the medical profession is to represent adequately this fascinating social phenomenon.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Graham RH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Social Theory & Health

Year: 2006

Volume: 4

Issue: 1

Pages: 43-63

Date deposited: 18/04/2008

ISSN (print): 1477-8211

ISSN (electronic): 1477-822X


DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.sth.8700063


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