and sensory and neurological disturbances. In reference to the legal outcome, there is little difference in the percentage of cases settled out of
court between the population and the sample. However, the population
contains a higher percentage of dismissals than the sample, whereas the
sample contains physicians who won their cases, and two cases were
still pending. A far higher percentage of cash awards were made among
the sample of interviewed physicians. Finally, the sample contains an
equal number of male and female physicians; I deliberately oversampled
women in order to make gender comparisons.
Thus the most interesting overall feature of the sample is that it contains a higher proportion of physicians who lost their cases involving
improper performance compared to the population, but these cases involved less serious complications. This might be due to the possibility
that these physicians may have felt a greater need to discuss what happened to them.
These differences between the sample and the population suggest that
it would be inappropriate to generalize the findings from these data.
Instead, their value lies in deepening our understanding of the experience and views of this particular group.
Anthony Giddens, The Constitution of Society ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984).
For some of the major literature, see W. I. Thomas and
Dorothy Swain Thomas
, The Child in America: Behavior, Problems, and Programs ( New York: Alfred
A. Knopf, 1928), 572; George Herbert Mead, Mind, Self, and Society, ed.
Charles W. Morris
[ 1934] ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962); Peter L. Berger
Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge ( Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday Anchor, 1967).
Robert Granfield, Making Elite Lawyers: Visions of the Harvard Law School
and Beyond ( New York: Routledge, 1992).
Although Giddens relies more on phenomenology and ethnomethodology
to explain agency, his work overlaps symbolic interactionism through the work
of Goffman. I have, therefore, taken the liberty of replacing Giddens's phenomenology with symbolic interactionism. I do so because the notion of how reality
is defined through negotiation and the construction of symbols are more directly
related to action. See Ian Craib for a statement of this in Anthony Giddens ( New
York: Routledge, 1992), 134-35.
Max Weber, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, ed. and trans.
Hans H. Gerth
C. Wright Mills ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1958), 196-244.
Charles Perrow, Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies ( New
York: Basic Books, 1984).
Letter from the assistant director of the Department of State Legislation, American Medical Association, November 11, 1991.
Stephen L. Fielding, "The Social Construction of the Medical MalpracticeCrisis: A Case Study of Massachusetts Physicians,"