Public Duties and Private Lives

Anne Digby

in The Evolution of British General Practice, 1850–1948

Published in print June 1999 | ISBN: 9780198205135
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191676512 | DOI:
Public Duties and Private Lives

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From the point of view of doctors within specific communities, this chapter explores the kinds of pressures that were indicated in an earlier discussion of the diversification of appointments which provided a very useful supplement to fee income in a competitive medical market. The prosopographical or group biography approach which is adopted in this chapter is useful, in that it enables key factors to be investigated in individuals' lives, and gives enhanced visibility to the dynamics of career development within defined and evolving social environments. In some contexts this was a struggle for survival but in others affluence and a desirable lifestyle resulted. The chapter also explores the conjunction of professional and private lives. In some contexts (or niches), the struggle for professional survival meant that a GP's private life was increasingly subsumed by public duties, but in others a greater affluence permitted a more desirable lifestyle for doctors and their families. A lynch pin between the public and the private was the doctor's house, which frequently served as both surgery and home, and within which the role of the doctor's wife was significant. The chapter ends with a reflection on the changing nature of the GP's values.

Keywords: general practice; general practitioners; doctors; medical practice; communities; fee income

Chapter.  14030 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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