American Sociological Association

Interdependent Career Types and Divergent Standpoints on the Use of Advanced Technology in Medicine

This paper uses the case of the uneven use of a robotic technology to explain how physicians with similar training come to engage in different medical practices. I develop a conceptual framework in which their decisions to use advanced technologies are informed by “interdependent career types,” a concept that incorporates features of the professional social context of physicians’ work and the expertise they use, and reflects how medicine distributes expertise via formal and informal referral structures. I draw on data regarding specialized physicians’ differentiated use of this technology over five years as well as interviews with those who continue to use the technology and those who have abandoned it. I argue that interdependent career types stratify physicians’ standpoints on multiple dimensions of medical work—including those related to their concerns about reputation, inclinations toward risk, and preferences regarding the use of their bodies.


Daniel A. Menchik





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