ABSTRACT

One further element in the theatre of the clinic must be considered before we go backstage and examine those more covert activities and sentiments which the bureaucratic format concealed. So far I have depicted the masks of the players and sketched in the broad themes of their relationship. Yet one quite central feature of the drama has gone largely unremarked. I have noted how parents, though allies, were nevertheless excluded from the medical college and cast as subordinates. What I have not shown is the extent to which that subordination was manifested within the various activities which made up a consultation. Put another way, we must distinguish between those matters which pertain to actors’ overall status within a relationship and those rules which govern their actual participation within the action. The two are clearly related but the one does not follow directly from the other. In some encounters the lowly may be granted considerable speaking parts, while in others their baseness may be reflected both in their exclusion from large areas of the action, and in a heavy control upon those parts which they do get to play.