Witnessing and the Medical Gaze: How Medical Students Learn to See at a Free Clinic for the Homeless


This article analyzes doctor-patient communication as it is taught to medical students in a student-run free clinic for the homeless. Moving beyond Foucault’s concept of the medical gaze, it incorporates Byron Good’s theorizing about the soteriological aspects of medicine and medical education as well as aspects of practice theory as illuminated by Anthony Giddens. Ethnographic examples illustrate the necessary tension between objectification and subject-making that exists in the specific practices engaged in by both students and preceptors at the clinic site.

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