456.4 Altruism as a professional ideology of Russian medical practitioners

Friday, August 3, 2012: 9:45 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Valeriy MANSUROV , Sociology of Professions and Professional Groups, Institute of Sociology of RAS , Moscow, Russia
Olesya YURCHENKO , Sociology of Professions and Professional Groups, Institute of Sociology of RAS , Moscow, Russia
Professional altruism, taken as a social good at which the professional expertise is directed, was seen as an important characteristic of professionals by social researchers writing from various theoretical perspectives. Functionalist and trait writers saw professions as ethically positive embodiments of the 'central values' of the society. Critics felt that this approach reflected too closely the ideological image which professionals tried to convey of their own work. In our research, in accordance with neo-Weberian critiques, we have not denied the importance of the professional ideology of altruism, arguing that some of medical practitioners’ actions may be self-enhancement, but the reverse side of the coin is still a service for their patients or clients. In the recent desk and qualitative research of Russian orthodox practitioners, the professional ideology was interpreted as a significant professional characteristic. The research picked up the discrepancy between the sense of reduced circumstances of medical practitioners and their rather positive estimations of the professional side of things. Medical practitioners proclaimed a greater commitment to ‘doing good work’ than to economic gain, and to quality rather than efficiency. Although a proclaimed ideology should not be mistaken for reality, it is worth noting that Russian doctors wish to be seen as supporting a professional ideology of altruism. The status of medicine as a career choice was also still significant to the respondents. Members of the profession were not willing to leave an occupation, and were likely to assert that they would choose the same work if they were to begin again.