CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

The rise in car accidents in France after World War II caused bodily injury to members of social groups that had been fairly spared up until then given that the primary victims of mutilating injuries had been military personnel and manual workers. The arrival of these “new victims” had the effect of “disadjusting” the prevailing social, economic and political purposes of compensation for such injury in that it “deregulated” some of the principles implicit in the hierarchical organization of physical and social bodies. Bodily injury appraisal was reformed under pressure from insurance organizations, doctors and magistrates – the three “bodies” implicated in “professionalizing” this kind of assessment. Methods were invented for medically assessing bodily injury that are specific to common law and independent of the methods used in other contexts and systems (work accidents, military injuries). Study of what can be understood as a process of putting the body back in order allows us to analyze two central features of such “professionalization”: first, the plural types of logic propelling the gradual acquisition of institutional legitimacy; second the repercussions of that plurality on the invention of new professional knowledge.

Philippe Ponet
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