Something about doctors and nurses and why they do not like each other so much!


Want to know what doctors might think of nurses, and vice versa? And how this might effect the rights and privileges between each group? You have to read down to the middle of our article in a recent issue of Palgrave CommunicationsAre the terms ‘socio-economic status’ and ‘class status’ a warped form of reasoning for Max Weber?” Here is a brief hint from somewhere in the middle of the article.  Warning: you’ll have to read through some dense but (we hope) insightful prose about Max Weber’s sociology to get to the juicy part about doctors and nurses:

To maintain exclusivity, doctors and nurses cultivate different symbols, routines and rituals. Among these are different uniforms, badges and vocabulary that sustain stereotypes about relative competence—doctors are assumed (by doctors anyway) to be cerebral, wise and skilled, whereas nurses are assumed to be practical but perhaps a bit impulsive and certainly not as cerebral. Dominant doctors assume this relationship to be natural and a function of the rigourous training doctors undertake to gain entry into an ancient profession, even as some doctors become alcoholics and drug addicts as they age. And indeed when such things do happen, care is taken that the fellow doctor is protected from the broader legal system and dealt with internally by the Stand.


As for nurses, they might see doctors as impetuous prima donnas, careless and unaware of the very human needs of the patients. Nurses are often well aware of the doctors’ infirmities. They also see doctors as overpaid—and nurses secretly hope that one day their true honour will finally be recognized, and they will get a big raise. Such are the stereotypes of hospital-based anthropological purebreds that persist as beliefs about relative competence and incompetence.”

Our reasoning about this issue is embedded in what Weber called in German “Stand” (plural “Staende“) the most basic form of social stratification.  In fact it is especially more basic than social class.  Our article is really about the phenomenon of the , of which professions like doctors and nurses are a really good example.  Other good examples besides professions, include ethnic groups, clans, clubs, tribes, i.e. any group in which members recognize each other as having mutual rights and responsibilities, particularly in the marketplace.