Organizational analysts have long questioned the ways in which professional knowledge becomes powerful. The purpose of this paper is to extend that enquiry by examining two professional groups in the UK – doctors and veterinarians.
The paper examines a selection of social interactions, tensions and disagreements between practitioners and non‐medical actors and draws on a range of qualitative research methods, particularly structured interview and participant observation, to analyse and interpret these as “epistemological conflicts”.
Hospital doctors and veterinary surgeons share a common belief that “truth” and “facts” are at the core of their clinical and surgical work. This positivist paradigm underpins a range of practical engagements with bodies and diseases and lends them a sense of ontological security when dealing with people from outside their professions, especially those without medical training. This paper examines the practical effects that such ontological tensions can have. In exposing some of these effects, this paper questions the often taken‐for‐granted divisions between science and arts, religion and medicine, and takes a more heterdox approach in analyzing social interactions.
The paper advocates philosophical, methodological and theoretical heterodoxy. The findings are viewed through a number of different theoretical lenses; from actor network theory and sociology of technology and science (STS) to deconstruction, frame theory and semiotics. The paper makes no attempt to choose between these approaches and instead argues that a “messy” and multiple understanding, both of theory and practice, is needed to gain insights into the tricky politics of knowledge and its effects in practical settings.
Hamilton, L. (2012), "Purity in danger: power, negotiation and ontology in medical practice", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 95-106. https://doi.org/10.1108/19348831211215687Download as .RIS
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