Sociological Analysis of Professionalism: Past, Present and Future

in Comparative Sociology
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Abstract

For a long time, sociological analysis of professional work has differentiated professionalism as a special means of organizing work and controlling workers and in contrast to the hierarchical, bureaucratic and managerial controls of industrial and commercial organizations. But professional work is changing and being changed as increasingly professionals (such as doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers) now work in employing organizations; lawyers and accountants in large professional service firms (PSFs) and sometimes in international and commercial organizations; pharmacists in national (retailing) companies; and engineers, journalists, performing artists, the armed forces and police find occupational control of their work and discretionary decision-making increasingly difficult to sustain. This paper begins with a section on defining the field and clarifying concepts. This is followed by a second section on the concept of professionalism, its history and current developments. The third section discusses convergences between Anglo-American and Continental European systems of professions and the general, wider applicability of particular explanatory theories and analytical concepts in the field. Section four examines internationalizing processes affecting professions. Markets for professional services are increasingly international and professional regulation is now a matter for international professional federations as well as national and regional states. The final section provides summary and considers consequences for aspects of professionalism as an occupational value in the global world.

Sociological Analysis of Professionalism: Past, Present and Future

in Comparative Sociology

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