Social Factors in Medical Progress


Sociologists have recently been investigating the nature of the behavior of culture during the process of change. Many questions have presented themselves for study. To what extent and why are innovations or changes in culture resisted? What are the psychological and sociological factors involved in this resistance? What is the nature of cultural growth? Are gifted individuals responsible for progress? Would progressive change have come about without the work of the particular individuals now accredited with the inventions and discoveries? An attempt has been made here to answer these and other related questions by an analysis of some of the phases of the history of medicine. This field was chosen for such an inquiry because in measuring the value of an innovation, the subjective factor can be eliminated to a greater degree than when dealing with the subject matter of politics, religion, art or economics.

The present inquiry is concerned with two aspects of cultural change as it occurs in the field of medicine, the first, an analysis of the psychological and sociological factors which retard the diffusion of innovations, and the second, the nature of progress in medicine. These questions will be treated separately in Part I and Part II respectively.

Hypotheses suggested by previous sociologists as to why change is resisted, were submitted to the test of evidence derived from an analysis of the controversies over innovations in the history of medicine. The result was a revised and supplemented list of factors involved in retarding change which is presented in the first chapter. Preliminary to a detailed critically historical analysis of the reasons for opposi-

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1927


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