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Soc Sci Med. 2009 Apr;68(7):1199-205. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.01.042. Epub 2009 Feb 14.

Rethinking collegiality: restratification in English general medical practice 2004-2008.

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National Primary Care Research and Development Centre, University of Manchester, Williamson Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom.


For Freidson [(1985). The reorganisation of the medical profession. Medical Care Review, 42(1), 11-35], collegiality, or ostensible equal status amongst members of the medical profession, serves a dual purpose. It socialises members into an attitude of loyalty to colleagues and presents an image to those outside the profession that all its members are competent and trustworthy. However, Freidson saw the use of formal standards developed by one (knowledge) elite within medicine and enforced by another (administrative) elite as threatening collegiality and professional unity. Drawing on two studies in English primary medical care this paper reports the emergence of new strata or elites, with groups of doctors involved in surveillance of others and action to improve compliance in deficient individuals and organizations. Early indications are that these developments have not led to the consequences which Freidson predicted. The increasing acceptance of the legitimacy of professional scrutiny and accountability that we identify suggests that new norms are emerging in English primary medical care, the possibility of which Freidson's analysis fails to take account.

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