Becker, Howard S. and Geer, Blanche. "Student Culture in a Medical School," Harvard
Educational Review 28 (Winter, 1958), pp. 70-80.
This is an early statement of some of the Boys in White material. Essentially the authors contend
here that medical students have a distinctive "culture." Students differ from professional
physicians as student culture has its own values which are quite different from practitioners'
values. Thus, students may want to "help" patients rather than "experience" disease. This conflict
must be gone through in order to be certified as a professional by medical men. Simply put:
student life may contain ideas which are contradictory to the expectations of faculty. The faculty
will ultimately win in this battle, for the student will have to "pass through" the stages of
In the case of the young scientist, the same kind of thing occurs. The young scientist must learn
only indirectly the games of science. There are no courses on practicing science! There are no
lectures on "tolerated" behaviors for scientists. There are no lesson plans on playing the games of
being a professional. There are no professional guidelines on any of the informal behaviors
which are expected within any profession. The informal rules remain just that, informal. It would
also seem that one is condemned to learn these rules informally.