By Talcott Parsons
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Additional resources for Action Theory and the Human Condition
Clearly only members of a department can vote on matters of the educational or appointment policy of that department in the academic world. I suggested above that litigants before a court of law stand in a status very different from that of judges of the court or, in another context, members of a jury. Similarly, it is clear, in an academic type of organization, faculty members within their own departments, or more generally within the faculty, stand in a status different from that of students on the one hand and administrative personnel of the academic organization on the other.
But surely, no ordinary medically untrained woman would be able to deliver a competent judgment, simply from feeling her own breast, whether a lump which was present was malignant or not. I do not mean to contend that lay opinion and decision making are infallible. For example, various kinds of health examinations and checkups may be extremely important. (I might simply report that my own mild diabetic condition came to light as a result of a general medical checkup. ) It has been my intention in the above discussion to set forth the most important reasons why the professional-lay relationship in the field of illness and health care cannot be treated as a fully symmetrical relationship in the hierarchical dimension.
However, his activity very generally goes well beyond this. We might suggest that the level of activity is minimized for acutely ill patients, particularly when they are hospitalized and subject to the ministrations not only of physicians but of nurses and other hospital personnel. Even in these cases, however, some active participation in addition to merely accepting hospital treatment is generally involved. And, the less acute the mediate situation, the more likely it is that this participation will be substantial.
Action Theory and the Human Condition by Talcott Parsons