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The anatomy of two medical archetypes: a socio-historical study of Australian doctors and their rival medical systems

Farag, Christine Victoria (2007) The anatomy of two medical archetypes: a socio-historical study of Australian doctors and their rival medical systems. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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In this thesis it is argued that the migration of ideas and personnel from Britain to colonial Australia resulted in the reproduction of two distinctive medical archetypes, namely, the soldier/saviour and the generalist (family) physician and surgeon. These have been both conceptualised as ideal type carriers or expediters of two rival forms of medical professionalism. They each emerged in the modern era as institutional products of distinctive educational processes and work practices available for doctors in 19th and 20th century Britain and Australia. While Freidson (1988) asserts one of the problems of dealing with studies of professionalism is that researchers have failed to clearly define work patterns, he could be seen as being close to Foucault (1973) whose emphasis was on the different social spaces in which practitioners worked.

I show firstly that the career of the imperial army medical officer was revived in the 19th century so that in colonial contexts they could alternate between military and civilian servicing, especially as administrators and managers in public office. The soldier/saviour was also associated with the 19th century revival of Masonic and quasi-Masonic military and religious orders, consecrated by royal sovereigns and exported to Australia. In contrast, the Scottish pedagogues and other generalist doctors coming to Australia from Britain were influenced by Edinburgh University's Medical Faculty's humanist traditions and design of the modern medical curriculum producing the generalist physician and surgeon who met community needs. Within wider imperial social relations, these generalist doctors were looked upon as dissenting or counter-hegemonic.

The aim of this thesis is to examine these archetypes in terms of their characteristics of rationalisation to analyse and understand their professional differences historically as well as in the contemporary period. The significance is that one does not often come across studies which specifically look at doctors within the same society in such terms. Furthermore, by locating them within wider hegemonic and counter-hegemonic social relations, links between ideas about medical professionalism and issues of human rights become evident. This follows the World Health Organization's directives to treat health or medical issues and human rights as a cross-cutting research activity. To my knowledge, no study has been undertaken in Australia of the background and impact of these different traditions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Supervisor(s): Campion, Michael
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