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The New Pediatrics: A Profession in Transitionby Dorothy Pawluch
Synopses & Reviews
When antibiotics became readily available in the 1950s, the danger of life-threatening infectious childhood diseases virtually disappeared. In that era, pediatricians broadened the core professional task of their specialty--the prevention and treatment of such diseases--to incorporate the behavioral and psychosocial problems of children and adolescents. Pediatricians themselves began to refer to this changing emphasis as the new pediatrics, and to see the trend as a natural progression of their specialty into new areas of care. At the same time there arose widespread disaffection among practicing general pediatricians, defection to other areas of practice, and a decline in the popularity of pediatrics as a specialty choice.
In analyzing the emergence of the new pediatrics as a case study within medical sociology, Pawluch shows how professional concerns and interests infl uence debate around social problems. As sociologists began to take greater interest in the problems of childhood, and as children's lives became increasingly medicalized--as some have argued--it is at least in part because of pediatricians' willingness to endorse medical defi nitions for certain social problems and to provide treatment for them.
Pawluch's underlying concern is that medical professionals have begun to make claims for authority in the definition of what constitutes the social problems of childhood. Among the topics she examines are the dissatisfied pediatrician syndrome, the potential for a crisis in oversupply of pediatricians and competing providers of services, the push for expansion into new areas of care, and possible future developments in this specialty.
Dorothy Pawluch is assistant professor of sociology at McMaster University. Her areas of interest include sociology of health and health care; deviance/social problems; work and occupations; and social psychology. She is the author of numerous book chapters and journal articles.
Book News Annotation:
After the advent of antibiotics and vaccines for life-threatening childhood diseases, pediatricians broadened the core of their specialty to incorporate behavioral and psychosocial problems of children and adolescents, leading to the "new pediatrics." Pawluch (sociology, McMaster University, Canada) analyzes the emergence of the new pediatrics as a case study in medical sociology, arguing that children's lives have become increasingly medicalized at least in part because of pediatricians' willingness to endorse medical definitions for certain social problems and to provide treatment for them. She proposes a process by which one or several types of primary health care professionals will survive the competition to treat the next generation of children. It would have been interesting to have a new introduction on how her projections have borne out in the years since the first edition of the book was published in 1996 by Transaction Publishers. This is the first paperback edition. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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