Degrees of difference: The politics of classifying international medical graduates

A. Harris*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The large number of international medical graduates (IMGs) working in Australia, and many other countries around the world, has received significant attention from the media, governments and academia. These institutions utilise a number of classificatory schemes in order to categorise IMGs. Such classification is often stigmatising, yet goes largely unquestioned. In this paper I show that the 'official naming' of IMGs in Australia, as well as the naming of IMGs by staff in hospitals, is historically, politically and socially produced. Following Bourdieu's call to also study how the classified classify, the paper goes on to examine ways in which IMGs name and categorise each other, drawing on ethnographic research. I argue that IMGs use classification themselves, strategically, in order to modify their marginalised position within the 'social space' of the hospital. The article questions taken-for-granted assumptions about classified groups such as IMGs and leaves an opening for change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-220
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Sociology Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • classification
  • international medical graduates
  • medical profession
  • sociology
  • workforce issues

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