[lbo-talk] Speaking of University Bashing...

shag carpet bomb shag at cleandraws.com
Sat Dec 10 05:47:34 PST 2011

carrol -

<> Grading could be abandoned. And degrees. Then each county medical <> association (as a group and each as an individual) would be heavily <> punished <> each time even one of its members fucked up with a patient.

your comment about credentialing of physicians reminded me that there is a really wonderful study of the credentialing process surgeons go through, Charles' Bosk's Forgive and Remember. Bosk shows that no surgeon ever gets booted from medical school for a failure in technical knowledge. they get reprimanded and booted when they don't uphold normative demands of the profession.

So, if one of them is up for review on their performance in the surgery room - they did something wrong - they will get booted from med school not because of the technical error, but because they failure to engage in the expected rituals of deference and demeanor. [1] When junior surgeons are penalized, it's because they don't say yes sir, no sir, how high sir on rounds. They *never* get penalized for leaving a surgical sponge in someone's abdomen. (Bosk goes into all the sociological reasons why this is the case - e.g., it creates solidarity among physicians, etc.)

Basically, today, the credentialing function in the professions is utter bullshit. Bosk's study has been confirmed by countless other studies ofother professions in which people are never booted from the profession for technical errors alone.

You (Carrol) and I once had a long rambling offlist conversation about a related topic, where people wanted to see to it that a junior professor at a college was reprimanded or, at least, booted or penalized or something for being such a spectacular idiot - for essentially being really ignorant of his supposed subject matter. They went after him, though, on the grounds that he allowed himself to be misrepresented as a professor (full) on a book jacket, rather than the correct title, which was something like lecturer or, possibly, assistant prof.

In other words, just as in surgical training, the situation here was to go after someone for a normative error, since they couldn't exactly go after him for technical errors.

In the conversation you and I had, which had something to do with the Greeks IIRC, you were talking about how academics (all learned professions) have to be understood as corrigible. Since knowledge is social, and since there is no absolute, we can only see knowledge as corrigible. Understood this way, a technical error in university or surgery or mechanical engineering or software engineering isn't necessarily something for which people would get booted from professions, even in the future good society. Something to think about anyway.

also, now I see that you were pissed at what I wrote. ha. OK. I take your point. I wasn't bashing, though. As I later said in that post, I wasn't trying to say that the conditions under which professors labored are wonderful. MY only point, as Yates seemed to understand, is that there are differences in the control over your labor time and the amount of discipline in the work place (which has been the original contention: that the surveillance in the university is greater than that of other jobs. I was disagreeing with that sentiment.)

[1] a lot of what Ward Churchill went through had to do with a failure to conform to the normative demands of the profession - such as being properly deferent to the colleagues who charged him with technical errors. Part of what got him in trouble, aside from the major issue (his politics) was his refusal to play by those rules.

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