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A Crisis of Identity: The Case of Medical Sociology

Margaret Gold
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 18, No. 2 (Jun., 1977), pp. 160-168
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2955379
Page Count: 9
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A Crisis of Identity: The Case of Medical Sociology
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Abstract

This paper addresses current contentions that medical sociology is handicapped as both a scholarly and a policy science by its subordinate relationship to the more powerful field of medicine. An analysis of all research articles published in the JOURNAL OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL BEHAVIOR which focus upon patients reveals the following: (1) the presence, in the majority, of implicit and explicit medical value assumptions influencing all stages of the research process, from the definition of problems and variables through the application of findings to health policy; (2) a tendency for cases of "medical bias" to be associated with collaborative research in which the sociologist is wholly or partly dependent upon medical sponsorship and definition of the research situation. Consequences of this situation for the human subjects of research as well as for the field are discussed. A conclusion is that both our subjects' interests and the theoretic and political integrity of the field are best served by maximizing professional autonomy vis-a-vis medicine. A proposal for studying the structure of working arrangements concludes the paper.

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