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. 2014 Dec;55(4):375-85.
doi: 10.1177/0022146514557131.

Medical Sociology as a Vocation

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Medical Sociology as a Vocation

Charles L Bosk. J Health Soc Behav. .

Abstract

This article extends Weber's discussion of science as a vocation by applying it to medical sociology. Having used qualitative methods for nearly 40 years to interpret problems of meaning as they arise in the context of health care, I describe how ethnography, in particular, and qualitative inquiry, more generally, may be used as a tool for understanding fundamental questions close to the heart but far from the mind of medical sociology. Such questions overlap with major policy questions such as how do we achieve a higher standard for quality of care and assure the safety of patients. Using my own research, I show how this engagement takes the form of showing how simple narratives of policy change fail to address the complexities of the problems that they are designed to remedy. I also attempt to explain how I balance objectivity with a commitment to creating a more equitable framework for health care.

Keywords: Reeder Award; health care; medical sociology; qualitative methods; vocation.

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