CHS 410: The Hospital as a Small Society: The Social Organization of Medicine

The study of the hospital's capacity to recontextualize legal mandates, instill larger social values, and ration care can provide a sense of how healing is choreographed in its most complex environment. In this course we will investigate the hospital as a strategic entrance point for understanding the social organization of contemporary medicine. We will pay special attention to the ways in which the hospital's agents are authoritative in their choreography, that is, how its professionals and administrators get people to do things they wouldn't otherwise do, especially those things that are inconvenient or uncomfortable. In our exploration of the causes and consequences of authority in the hospital, we will examine such topics as: how institutions produce insanity, how doctors seek to generate compliance, and how medical students manage the uncertainty implicit in interpreting science and performing professionally