Closing conference: Disease Prestige and Informal Priority Settings
The conference will mark the closing of the Disease Prestige Project. The program will end with a reception marking the career of professor Dag Album and his work in medical sociology.
The research project Disease Prestige and Informal Priority Settings, financed by the Norwegian Reseach Council, have in a series of studies shown that physicians and other health personnel rank diseases and medical specialties according to their prestige. The project has also analysed logics behind these evaluations, and how these are produced and sustained.
The basic theoretical concept in these analyses is Max Weber’s prestige. This concept has until now almost exclusively been used in studies of occupational inequality. In our project, it is taken for granted that all categories are subject to evaluations. What is crucial, is that the appraisals are shared, that there is a consensus. The conference aims, however, at moving further than highlighting the project’s findings until now. It also aims at showing the fruitfulness of the prestige concept in analyses of other phenomena than diseases.
The conference key note speaker is Annemarie Jutel, Victoria University of Wellington. Professor Jutel is a highly esteemed researcher in the sociology of medicine, especially known for her contributions to the “Sociology of Diagnoses”. Her latest published book is Putting a Name to It: Diagnosis in Contemporary Society. She is now working on a new project, “Telling it like it is: Diagnostic narratives and Power”, and she will present some basic ideas and findings from this project in her lecture. In her own words:
“Diagnosis is one of medicine’s most important tools. It structures the relationship between patient and diagnostician, organises illness and provides access to resources. In this presentation, I reveal how the moment at which a serious diagnosis is revealed to a patient triggers stories which serve to reinforce power of medical knowledge, and contribute to medical authority. With wide ranging sources, from historical publications to contemporary popular films and novels, I use diagnostic revelation as a case study for illustrating the role of diagnosis as a social structure which shapes understandings of health, illness and disease.”
Dag Album (born 1948) is a professor in sociology at the University of Oslo. His main interests as a researcher has been in the sociology of medicine. In the main, he has followed two lines of interest in this field. One of them concerns the interaction between patients in general hospitals, a type of relations he was the first to explore systematically. His other major interest has been the rank order of diseases according to their prestige. This is a formerly neglected aspect of informal medical culture. Results from the project have been met with great interest inside as well as outside scholarly circles, in part because of findings’ implications for health policy. Theoretically, this line of thought reaches beyond medical conditions. All cultural categories are loaded with values, meaning that studies of the prestige of diseases also is part of the sociology of evaluation.
Before joining the University of Oslo, Album worked at the University of Tromsø, Statistics Norway, Institute of Health and Society at University of Oslo, and Norwegian Social Research.