Prestige Hierarchies and Relations of Dominance Among Healthcare Professionals
Reflecting on Bourdieu’s theory of symbolic power, the aim of our study was to
determine the degree to which prestige ranking follows a logic of social
recognition that transcends health professional group boundaries. Based on a
previous cross-sectional survey, in which 605 health professionals ranked 19
diseases and 17 specialties, this paper draws on data from 25 in-depth
interviews with nurses, doctors and nursing/medical students with the
objective to understand to what degree each of the four groups dissociates
themselves from the prestige ranking demonstrated in the survey. We found
that all four groups have similar perceptions of prestige. However, while
doctors and nurses defend the hierarchy of specialisations in medicine,
medical students and nursing students to a greater degree challenge the status
quo. This has no real impact, as their dissenting opinions are articulated from
positions defined by their rank in the distribution of capital. Therefore, these
positions cannot significantly threaten the stability of the healthcare field.
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