Big news! LibraryThing is now free to all! Read the blog post and discuss the change on Talk.
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.


The Social Transformation of American Medicine: The Rise of a Sovereign… (1982)

by Paul Starr

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
431340,914 (4.13)22
Considered the definitive history of the American healthcare system, The Social Transformation of American Medicine examines how the roles of doctors, hospitals, health plans, and government programs have evolved over the last two and a half centuries. How did the financially insecure medical profession of the nineteenth century become a most prosperous one in the twentieth century? Why was national health insurance blocked? And why are corporate institutions taking over our medical care system today? Beginning in 1760 and coming up to the present day, renowned sociologist Paul Starr traces the decline of professional sovereignty in medicine, the political struggles over healthcare, and the rise of a corporate system. Updated with a new preface and an epilogue analyzing developments since the early 1980s, this new edition of The Social Transformation of American Medicine is a must-read for anyone concerned about the future of our fraught healthcare system.… (more)



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 22 mentions

Showing 3 of 3
In The Social Transformation of American Medicine, Paul Starr argues, "The dominance of the medical profession...goes considerably beyond this rational foundation. Its authority spills over its clinical boundaries into arenas of moral and political action for which medical judgment is only partially relevant and often incompletely equipped. Moreover, the profession has been able to turn its authority into social privilege, economic power, and political influence" (pg. 5). He bases his analysis on three premises: "Social structure is the outcome of historical processes" (pg. 7); "the organization of medical care cannot be understood with reference solely to medicine, the relations between doctors and patients, or even all the various forces internal to the health care sector" (pg. 8); and "the problem of professional sovereignty calls for an approach that encompasses both culture and institutions" (pg. 8). With this focus and organizing premises, Starr traces medicine's social role from the colonial era through the Clinton administration. Anyone interested in medical history will find this an invaluable source while those studying medicine should read this to better contextualize their own place in American society so that they can work with greater self-awareness. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Nov 24, 2017 |
I had to read this for my Health Law class. It was *excellent*. Anyone interested on how we got from there to here in the medical mess that we call health insurance, it's a must read. My only complaint is that it's dated since it was published in the '80s. I'd love to see a second edition. Don't call me crazy fellow Health Law students. :) ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
How medicine fell from being a humanitarian profession to an entreprenurial enterprise. ( )
  smudgedlens | Nov 3, 2007 |
Showing 3 of 3
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
To the memory of
My Father
First words

I have divided this history into two books to emphasize two long movements in the development of American medicine; first the rise of professional sovereignty; and second the transformation of medicine into an industry and the growing, though still unsettled, role of corporations and the state.
The dream of reason did not take power into account.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

No library descriptions found.

Book description
"The definitive social history of the medical profession in America.  .... a monumental achievement ... laced with wit and irony and graced with style. For all its scholarship, it is intensely readable - and intensely relevant ... should become the reference standard for every citizen'a understanding of medical care, the sourcebook for every Congressional  debate over our social commitments to the ill and a guide to the humane system we may yet create."
~ H Jack Geiger, MD, Front Page, New York Times Book Review

"The most ambitious and important analysis of American medicine to appear in over a decade ... If you read only one book about american medicine, this is the one you should read."
~Ronald Numbers, Science

"A tour de force - a provocative, insightful study that is both scholarly and readable."
~ Arnold Relman, Editor, New England Journal of Medicine

"Superb sociology, superior history - and essential reading for anyone interested in the fate of American medicine.
~ Newsweek

"A major work by one of the best sociologists of his generation."
~ Daniel Bell, Harvard University

"Brilliant, an important contribution, a book that anyone with a serious interest in the field out to read."
~ Alain Enthoven, Stanford Business School

Winner of the 1984 Pulitzer Prize in General Non-Fiction, the 1984 Bancroft Prize in American history and the 1983 C. Wright Mills Award in sociology.
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (4.13)
1 1
2 1
3 8
3.5 2
4 10
4.5 1
5 19

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 147,990,012 books! | Top bar: Always visible