Assess the functionalist view of the medical profession.
Functionalists have a consensus view on the medical profession; they support the occupation, as they believe all groups in society work together like a human body. Other groups such as feminists and Marxists believe that the medical profession does not take into account the social model. Both Marxist and feminists have a more conflict approach around the medical occupation.
Functionalists believe that doctors and the likes of have an altruistic behaviour; they put others before themselves. Functionalists such as Parsons and Barber believe that the medical profession is essential to society. Barber believes that doctors are an elite and only people who have studied in the medical occupation are able to help members of society that are ill. Barber believes that doctors are altruistic and put others before themselves. Barber believes that doctors follow a strict code of ethics and ensure that no patients are exploited. He also believes doctors are an elite due to the fact that doctors are in their position due to their own ability.
Parsons sick role shows that doctors and the likes of try their hardest to help society meet functional pre-requisites. These are the care of the elderly, primary socialisation and the production of food. Parsons sick role enables people to have both rights and obligations. To enable the sick role member to have rights he must follow through with the obligations. The sick role enables people to feel better and thus get on with their everyday lives. The doctor acts as a ‘gate keeper’ and allows whom s/he sees fit to enter.
There are some criticisms of the sick role however. Not everyone who is ill adopts the sick role. The sick role tends to ignore personal blame within the sick role and exempts people who have a self induced illness such as alcoholics. The sick role also ignores things that are not curable such as terminal illness, diabetes and HIV.
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