The vast majority of contributors to the sociology of professions literature fail to distinguish professions from other occupations, and it sees this as a virtue, not a noteworthy gap at a conceptual level. Talcott Parsons’ most methodical treatment of professions which earlier opposed this position has gone unread, and today has largely disappeared from the literature. Two cases, one historical (the Paris Académie de Peinture et de Sculpture), the other contemporary (the governance of publicly traded corporation as overseen by Delaware courts), challenge the majoritarian position as its core, at a conceptual level. They compel a more abstract, analytical, approach to profession and professionalism. We conclude by presenting the issues and questions presented to all contributors in preparation for this special topic.