This title is firm sale. Please select carefully as returns are not accepted. Professions and professional activity are undergoing dramatic changes as we approach the millenium. This interdisciplinary volume presents an overview ofconceptual issues and considers the practical issues facing professionals today. Examining the professional areas of medicine, education, law and accountancy, the authors illustrate how the nature of professional activity is changing, and how decision making power is being shifted away from the holders of specialised knowledge and towards clients and managers.
Although this might seem to signify an end to traditional notions of professionalism involving trust, responsibility and self-organisation, they argue that this does not necessarily mean an end to professionalism itself, but rather a beginning of its significance and functioning. This process is of central importance to political economists, sociologists, organisation and management theorists, and anyone who is trying to understand the siginificance of professional organisation in modern British society today. Subscribe now to be the first to hear about specials and upcoming releases.
Title Author. The End of the Professions?
Epilogue: Teaching Professions in Restructuring Contexts | SpringerLink
Trade Paperback 1. Description of this Book Professions and professional activity are undergoing dramatic changes as we approach the millenium. Author's Bio There is no author biography for this title. In general, institutional, scientific and social developments had direct impacts on key professions: for example, law, accounting, medicine, engineers, chemists.
These ideas of professions still linger in our collective consciousness, but we should be aware of the ways in which they have been channelled by the twentieth century. As we have implied above, the evolution of professionalism in the twentieth century cannot be understood without reference to key developments in the societal contextual tapestry that have occurred and which form a backdrop for the particular changes.
This is called a philosophy rather than a set of practices for two reasons. Second, it was never a universal practice: for example, it was highly appropriate in car manufacture, but largely inappropriate in machine tools manufacture. Hence, whilst Taylorism as a set of specific practices was never universal it did inform a management philosophy: that managers had a right to manage.
Arguably, scientific management both promoted and was promoted by a belief that there was a distinction to be made between conception and execution—thinking and doing. The philosophical or ideological underpinning of Taylorism was accompanied by another, contextual factor which was also important in developing professionalism: the development of the large scale organisation with characteristic mass production strategies. This might be seen to have influenced the need for more systematic control of the workforce Braverman, but it also introduced the necessity of new specialist organisation tasks: financial management, marketing, research and development, etc.
This is of interest for two reasons. First it gave some established professions, particularly accounting and law, a new relevance. Second, it illustrates the complex socio-economic context in which professional projects develop.
This introduces the interesting question as to whether managers themselves can be classed as professionals, a subject that we will return to later in this chapter. In general there was no social recognition of their status in the early part of the century. For the moment we can point out that the necessary autonomy and tacit knowledge, which we see as defining characteristics of professionalism along with training, internal control, etc.
An interesting question is whether this is still the case; at the same time we might also ask whether other new activities which arose from this new organisational structure marketing for example comprise profes sions? We will not offer an unambiguous answer here, but merely point out that this ambiguity is present in the very notion of professionalism.
A final contextual issue to be considered is the growth of the public sector and in this respect we can consider the way in which the Keynes-Beveridge consensus as it is called in the UK linking economic and social welfare reforms was implemented.enter
The end of the professions? : the restructuring of professional work
In the development of the welfare state, institutions which took up the organisation of a number of professional services were born. It was in these bureaucracies that a different notion of professionalism developed from that of the independent and ancient professions of, for example, law and medicine which had existed previously. The differences have resulted in a division between private and public sector professionalism that Perkin , has consistently argued is central to the development of professions. In the public sector nominal hierarchical superiors were effectively impotent in terms of control of both detailed strategies and operations.
The lack of direct control was suffered by both the suppliers of finance i. The users of the services, the equivalent of Taylorist 'doers' in the private sector, had neither the equivalent of trade union power nor specialist knowledge to counter professional power. The post-war development of health services and school education in the UK where clinicians and teachers respectively controlled areas of their activity in a relatively autonomous way is illustrative here, as are the later developments in university education and social services.
The case of medicine is particularly revealing see chapter 5 as the new Health Ministry had to submit to the power of the British Medical Association in a way that ensured a continuing professional status. The implications of current reforms which have challenged this situation are equally revealing, as will be discussed shortly. In summary, a brief overview of some of the currents from the first threequarters of the twentieth century illustrates some of the ways in which professionalism can develop, although it should be recognised we have given a mere gloss over the complexities involved.
One element of this development which we see as important and which has been presented here is the extent to which professionalism and Taylorism appear to be interwined.
Early notions of scientific management provided no challenge to professionalism and indeed provided it with some legitimacy. More recently the ideas of Taylor have been seen as providing a template for approaches by which to control professional activity. However, these ideas have, since their inception, been under fairly constant attack.
Economic criticisms emphasise the ways in which scientific management is demotivating and inappropriate in a dynamic and complex world. Moral-ethical-political criticisms emphasise the undemocratic and inhuman nature of its practices. This raises questions about the relevance of the transfer of this control approach to the professional sphere. This should not be taken to imply that we can ignore the issue.
Professionalism was in earlier periods less subject to question and subject to the security of professional autonomy and the guiding role of strong professional ethics. More recently professional autonomy and ethical principles are frequently being cast as obsolete and irrelevant to the current era. But, a simple counter to such arguments based on the prerogative of what has happened in the past is difficult to sustain. This recent impetus towards a changing professional role can be seen against the resurgence of neoliberal ideas and practices.
Neoliberalism can be seen as a reaction to the postwar consensus. The movement should not be confused with a return to nineteenth century practices: this is mere rhetoric that has no real basis in reality The central characteristics of the nineteenth century view on professionalism were, as we discussed earlier, seen to be an emphasis on two elements, social status and key institutionalscientific developments. The second set of factors remains partially relevant, particularly in terms of scientific development, but institutional evolution has more recently emphasised the supremacy of the individual over the social and ownership over responsibility.
Contemporary neo-liberalism sees a government machine at the mercy of professional interests who ceaselessly seek to extract increased resources and to grant more power to sectional groups.
Miller and Rose, The thrust of neo-liberalism, thus, views professionals with antipathy. Neither is this distrust one sided. A neo-liberal emphasis on individuality and rights linked to ownership can be problematic for many professionals: particularly for those operating in the public sector: ideas of professionalism often stress rights based on citizenship.
Professionals are seen as problematic for neo-liberals as their relative autonomy provides problems of control. For this reason the state has looked to demanding accountability for the activities of professionals in a manner which is sometimes reminiscent of the tenets of scientific management.
Thus, the chapters which follow provide accounts of what is often seen to be attempts to produce a standardisation of professional activity in order to control it. This raises questions as to the potential for the development of professional activity. We will argue that the emphasis on individual-ownership which is currently prevalent might well be seen in retrospect as a transitional phase that provides a means of breaking previous professional practices and norms.
The development of a new professionalism, we argue, requires a reinstitutionalised sense of social responsibility. In exploring the development of professional practice, recognition must be given to the context in which those changes are located. These impinge upon professional development in a number of ways. Technological change is being dominated by information and biotechnologies. These have a unique set of characteristics that are forcing socio-economic restructuring.
In addition to providing obvious new markets and products that people want to buy they are generic inputs into other production processes. In short, new technologies are both pulling and pushing change. These changes are having a number of effects on professionals. Just as in the nineteenth century, new technologies are promoting the development of new experts, for example IT specialists, and this raises the question as to whether this body of people constitutes an emerging profession?
The practice requires a body of specialist knowledge, along with a particular language and training requirements.
The way this might develop is mere speculation. In addition to providing a possible impetus for new professional development, new technologies are disrupting existing professions. Information is now more mobile and available but not completely so: see chapter 2 and this can undermine the role of specialists see chapter 8 with regard to auditing. Furthermore, new technologies facilitate decentralisation accompanied by tighter accountability This type of control typical of neo-liberalism and providing accountability based on the standardisation of Taylorism can undermine autonomy and is increasingly used in both the public and private sectors in the UK.
In short, while new technologies might restructure professionalism we cannot predict a unique effect. Organisational change is to some extent using this new technological capability but is also separate from it. Some important dimensions of the current emphasis can be explained in terms of flexible exploitation of core capabilities.
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- Epilogue: Teaching Professions in Restructuring Contexts | SpringerLink;
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