Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 215–236 | Cite as

Text, competence and logic: An exercise

  • G. Nigel Gilbert
  • Christian Heath


Professional medical practice, like other organizational conduct, relies upon records which document transactions between members and their clientele. Medical practitioners employ a set of conventions providing for the systematic recording and interpretation of medical record cards that forms a social organization underlying the records cards' ordinary usage. In this paper we examine these conventions and develop a computer program which captures elements of their structure and use. By doing so we illustrate one way in which sociological analysis can contribute to the design of ‘intelligent systems.’ We also suggest that the emerging discipline of Artificial Intelligence might find recent developments in sociology pertinent to its concerns.


Medical Record Artificial Intelligence Social Organization Computer Program Social Psychology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bittner, E. and H. Garfinkel 1967 “Good organizational reasons for ‘bad’ records.” In H. Garfinkel studies in Ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  2. Clocksin, W. F. and C. S. Mellish 1981 Programming in Prolog. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  3. Garfinkel, H. 1967 Studies in Ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  4. Gilbert, G. N. and C. Heath (eds) 1985 Social Action and Artificial Intelligence. Aldershot: Gower.Google Scholar
  5. Hart, H. L. A. 1968 Punishment and Responsibility: Essays in the Philosophy of Law, Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  6. Heath, C. 1982 “Preserving the consultation: Medical record cards and professional conduct.” Sociology of Health and Illness 4: 56–74.Google Scholar
  7. Kay, C. at al. 1980 Computers in Primary Health Care. Occasional paper No. 13 London: Royal College of General Practitioners.Google Scholar
  8. Kowalski, R. 1979 Logic for Problem Solving. New York: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  9. Levinson, S. C. 1983 Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Rawls, J. 1955 “Two concepts of rules.” Philosophical Review 64: 3–32.Google Scholar
  11. Sacks, H. 1972 “On the analysability of stories by children.” reprinted in Turner, R. (ed) Ethnomethodology (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974.Google Scholar
  12. Searle, J. 1981 “Minds, brains and programs.” In Haugeland, J (ed.) Mind design. Vermont: Bradford Books.Google Scholar
  13. Taylor, S. 1954 Good general practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Nigel Gilbert
    • 1
  • Christian Heath
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of SurreyGuildfordEngland

Personalised recommendations