Doctors are among the healthiest segments of the population in western countries. Nevertheless, they complain strongly of stress and burnout. Their own explanation is deprofessionalisation: The honourable art of doctoring has been replaced by standardised interventions and production lines; professional autonomy has withered. This view is shared by many medical sociologists who have identified a “golden age of medicine,” or “golden age of doctoring,” starting after World War II and declining around 1970. This article looks at some of the central sociological literature on deprofessionalisation, particularly in a perspective of countervailing powers. It also looks into another rise-and-fall model, proposed by the medical profession itself, where the fall in professional power was generated by the notion that there are no more white spots to explore on the map of medicine. Contemporary doctoring is a case of cognitive dissonance, where the traditional doctor role seems incompatible with modern health care.
Keywords: deprofessionalisation, professional autonomy, cognitive dissonance, golden age of doctoring
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