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May 16, 1959


Author Affiliations

Durham, N. C.

Vice-president, Duke University.

JAMA. 1959;170(3):285-289. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03010030029009

I am honored to be asked to present the initial background paper at this 55th Congress on Medical Education and Licensure, the broad subject for discussion of which is "specialism in medicine." Nevertheless, I must begin by warning that I am somewhat at odds in my thinking with some of the implications of the title which has been assigned to me, that of "the rise of specialism in modern society."

History of Specialism  If the methods of modern quantitative sociology were applicable and if the historic source materials were available, I strongly suspect that it could be demonstrated that "specialism" has always been an accompaniment and even an essential element of organized societies, especially those which were as highly urbanized as our own. Indeed, this has been done, in some measure, by such archeologists as V. Gordon Childe and others, who place the beginnings of specialization as far back as

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