How many doctors are there in this house?

Status and knowledge in interaction


Hervé Varenne and Mimi Cotter

Teachers College, Columbia University

Many will find the image familiar and the following statement common sensical:

Frame from video: What is interesting here?

There is a woman in labor, surrounded by doctors, nurse, husband.

As phrased this statement assumes that you are one of those who were not surprised to have it confirmed that this is indeed the image of a woman in labor. The question remains even if you are not.

My questions: what did these people do to produce something so familiar and common sensical? What are some of the consequences of their organizing themselves in such a way?

There are good reasons to start answering this question through the classical "theater" metaphor for social action: on the left is a scene, Hospital Labor, in the late 20th century play: "The birth of a child."

This presentation is dedicated to exploring this statement from many different angles, theoretically and pedagogically.

Initial Questions       How to Read this Project

Febuary 15, 1999