The Significance of Scientific Capital in UK Medical Education

Minerva 49 (3):317-332 (2011)
For decades, debates over medical curriculum reform have centred on the role of science in medical education, but the meaning of ‘science’ in this domain is vague and the persistence of the debate has not been explained. Following Bourdieu, this paper examines struggles over legitimate knowledge and the forms of capital associated with science in contemporary UK medical education. Data are presented from a study of two UK medical schools, one with a traditional, science-oriented curriculum, another with an integrated curriculum. Constructions of legitimate knowledge were explored at both schools through six months participant observation, interviews with faculty members (n=15) and students (n=37) and documentary analysis. Findings show that medical schools compete for both scientific and clinical capital, but ultimately science has greater legitimacy. ‘Science’ is defined in accordance with the structure of the traditional curriculum and has become a symbolic resource – a mark of distinction for both medical schools and medical students – which is equated with clinical competence. The significance of science is circumscribed by the medical education field, yet the struggles for scientific capital there have ramifications beyond medical education itself. It is argued that Bourdieu’s concepts are particularly useful tools for studying the meanings that science takes on outside of the scientific field
Keywords Medical education  Pierre Bourdieu  Curriculum reform  Science  Scientific capital  Science and technology studies
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11024-011-9177-z
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,201
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 11 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Amy T. Campbell (2012). Teaching Law in Medical Schools: First, Reflect. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 40 (2):301-310.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

15 ( #297,120 of 1,940,962 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #457,978 of 1,940,962 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.