Using material from item C and elsewhere, access the functionalist view of the medial profession. (24 mark)

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Kieran Podbury
Using material from item C and
elsewhere, access the functionalist view
of the medial profession. (24 mark)
Functionalists believe that the medical professionals serve in the interests of the whole society; they
go into the profession simply to help people who are in need of it. They believe that medical
professionals are altruistic. They believe that we should put full trust in doctors because they share a
number of traits, for example they are full trained to the highest possible standard. It is a positive
approach towards medical professionals. Some sociologists believe this is a far to idealistic approach
to the profession, not all doctors are fully trustworthy. An example of this is the Harold Shipman case,
he used his power to kill his patients rather than help them. This case and others like is undermines
the functionalist view that doctors are selfless and their only aim is to help. The sick role is an
example of how functionalist put full faith in doctors, the doctor has the power to put you on the sick
role, this is when you have rights and obligations without this doctor doing this, and you are well and
are expected to work.
The Marxist approach is the opposite; it is an extremely negative view on the medical profession.
They believe that the medical profession supports the interest of the ruling class. Marxists accuse
the medial profession of misleading the majority of the population that the cause of illness isn't poor
living conditions and poverty but genetics to please the minority, they are causing false class
consciences. Opposition to the Marxist approach includes the fact that Marxists ignore the beneficial
work that doctors do to help people from all classes. Doctors recognize the role of poverty and
stress as cause of illness. They are not hiding this information undermining the Marxist view.
Another extreme and negative view is the feminist approach. Feminist believes that the medical
profession reflects the interests of men and controls female health. They believed that women were
excluded from the higher positions in the medical professions. The reason they believe they have
been excluded from the profession is because being a doctor gives a high level of power and
prestige, something a women in the view of men cannot have. There has been a large amount of
criticism aimed at this approach. All men who enter the profession simply don't enter it to keep
women below men in society. Also in the last 15 year, roughly the same amount of men and women
have been training to be doctors, this shows that the approach is out of date. Women dominate
certain eras of the medical profession like nursing and radiography, they are doing the same, putting
barriers in place making it hard to get into the profession for men., although some feminist believe
this is a technique that has been used to combat male dominance.
The Weberian approach believe that medical professionals have created social closure, that makes
them more powerful and elite that other groups in society. They have created this power and
prestige though restricting the social background of doctors through harsh examination, mystification
of medical knowledge and exclusion of other alternative therapies. Critics believe that it is a very
negative view and again doesn't take into consideration what some doctors do to help patients, for
example overtime.
In conclusion the functionalist approach is a very idealistic approach towards the medical profession,
in most cases the statement that doctors are very selfless is true although I do personally agree with
Weberian approach, that many doctors go into the profession for money, power and prestige.


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