Thesis ID: CBB001562004

The Code of Ethics of the American Medical Association: The Social Construction of Medical Morality: The Establishment of a Masculine Profession (2003)


Cooper, Melvin Wayne (Author)

University of Texas at Dallas
Gossin, Pamela

Publication Date: 2003
Edition Details: Advisor: Gossin, Pamela
Physical Details: 221 pp.
Language: English

The 1847 Code of Ethics of the American Medical Association is considered to be the first professional code of ethics. Evaluated extensively by historians, the dominant historical viewpoint of the Code is that it was a foundation document of professionalization of medicine. In this dissertation I reevaluate the social and cultural context of the AMA Code in terms of its function in the construction of a paternalistic and essentially masculine medical profession. I begin by presenting the textual evidence of moral ambiguities in the Code, ambiguities which have not been explained by prior interpretations. The next chapter shows how the medical doctors had been frustrated in their attempts to establish themselves as elite members of the society. These failed attempts at legitimation led to the introduction of the founding of the American Medical Association and its founding document, the Code of Ethics. The next part of the dissertation introduces evidence supporting the view that the regular medical doctors believed in the efficacy of their treatment. In such a situation they felt obligated to constitute a Code of Ethics elaborating the bilateral social relationship. It is found that the regular doctors utilized innovative new diagnostic technologies which came to constitute a new paradigm of normality which supported their belief in their justification to construct a Code of Ethics. In the situation of the failure of medical treatment in this paradigm, the blaming of the patient (particularly in the case of venereal disease) justified the elaboration of the paradigm such that there came to be the inclusion of ethical obligations of the patients towards the profession. A major contradiction between the Introduction to the Code and the Code of Ethics is resolved by examining the history of the medicalization of social deviancy. Sociological theory shows how the core paradigm is exploited, leading to the professionalization of medical practice. The functional consequence of this constitution of the medical profession is seen to be the masculination of medicine and the establishment of a paternalistic profession. The rationalization of the new paradigm leads to the AMA Code of Ethics.


Description Cited in Diss. Abstr. Int. A 64 (2004): 3708. UMI order no. 3110970.

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Authors & Contributors
Bainham, Andrew
Richards, Martin
Hendricks, Rickey L.
Ward, Patricia Spain
McTavish, Jan R.
Baker, Robert B.
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Pacific Historical Review
American Studies
Social History of Medicine
Pharmacy in History
University of Texas at Austin
Johns Hopkins University Press
Hart Publishing
Auckland University Press
Duke University Press
University of Illinois Press
Medicine and ethics
Medicine and gender
Physicians; doctors
Public health
African Americans and science
Lacks, Henrietta
Time Periods
20th century
20th century, early
19th century
20th century, late
21st century
North America: United States; Canada
United States
New Zealand
Southern states (U.S.)
American Medical Association
United States. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA)

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