Culture, Power, and Social Structure in Medicine


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Culture, Power, and Social Structure in Medicine

I found this news article fascinating as it expresses a range of sociological themes through one single news article. As an aspiring physician, I am routinely intrigued by news in the medical community, and also hope to travel abroad to provide care internationally.
From looking at the image alone, there are clear differences or examples of inequality that also present themselves as differences in culture, power, and structure. Culturally there is a difference between the healthcare providers who traveled from the USA and other established countries, and then there are the patients, who have been suffering from disease and do not normally have access to healthcare. Additionally, social structures identify between patient and physician, introducing more than cultural norms to the mix in providing treatment. This also goes hand in hand with the role of power, as physicians are given a responsibility to do no harm through their creed as well as provide for the care of the diseased.
This article discusses the Ebola outbreak in Guinea which is a hot topic to discuss, as many lives are being affected through the epidemic and organizations such as Medecins San Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) are taking on the responsibility to aid the communities affected. Whether focusing on the macro level of healthcare or the micro level of patient-doctor interactions, the bottom line comes down to helping humanity and aiding life, whether in America in a practice, or flying out to across the Atlantic to save a life.
The discussion of the mob involvement struck me as interesting as it introduced a new party into the mix. The traditional power structure was changed, and the status quo was changed in a sense. Additionally, the inclusion o politics changed the scope of the situation and escalated it to a broader problem.
Moreover, by the mob accusing the physicians of bringing the Ebola virus, it was a clearer example of the varying levels of power and social structure. With a lack of scientific education, the mob members did not have the power to challenge the doctors’ science and creed, and the culture of the mob challenged the acceptance of good Samaritans into their community, thus lacking faith in their harmless intentions.
In conclusion, this article and image packs a sociological punch, whether from the political or scientific perspective. On my end, I am happy that I can see these varying connections, and to be able to see how things all appear differently on different levels from a sociological lens.

Submitted by Dhruv Sethi

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