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Degree of commitment and patterns of change; a sociological study of first year medical students Stolar, Grace Elaine (Culley)


This study is directed toward learning more about intervening variables, or social mechanisms of change, within the process of socialization. It focused upon one social mechanism: "degree of commitment". The contention of the thesis is that "degree of commitment", within the socialization process, is directly connected with (a) the experiences of learning during the process of becoming a member of a social system; and (b) the "socialized" resultant when the learning process is complete. The concept of "degree of commitment" is to be understood in its relation to three other sociological concepts: decision-making, socialization, and social-change. Each of these bears directly upon the concept of "degree of commitment". The factors which work together to result in a decision at the same time result in “degree of commitment". Once a "degree of commitment" is established, it can not only be estimated at a point in time, but it can be examined as a social mechanism -effecting change. Of course, both decision-making and socialization involve "change" and, this concept as a disequilibrating force, similar to the familiar physics concept, is of paramount importance. Five different stated "degree of commitment" groups were analyzed, first, whether or not their stated commitment changed over a period of time; and second, according to different responses to factual and attitudinal questions by commitment group. Data was gathered and examined, according to commitment group, in areas such as: performance, age, socio-economic class, students' self-image and career choice, conceptions of medicine as a career, attitudes toward faculty, peers and toward competition. The constellation of groups and the patterns of change vary by commitment group. As a social mechanism, degree of commitment restricts and governs action. From this study, it is submitted that degree of commitment is an integral part of the socialization process and, therefore, it is one of the social mechanisms that must be studied in any analysis of socialization as a sociological concept. The first year medical students at the University of British Columbia, in the university year 1959-60, comprised the sample. A questionnaire was the main source of data.

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