Defining a profession: the role of knowledge and expertise

Saks, Mike (2012) Defining a profession: the role of knowledge and expertise. Professions and Professionalism, 2 (1). pp. 1-10. ISSN 1893-1049

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The paper highlights the importance of resurrecting the debate about how to define a profession. The drive to define a profession is traced back to the taxonomic approach – encompassing the work of trait and functionalist writers – in which professions were seen as possessing unique and positive characteristics, including distinctive knowledge and expertise. A range of critical challenges to this approach are then considered, particularly as they relate to the role of knowledge and expertise in defining a profession, covering interactionism, Marxism, Foucauldianism and discourse analysis. However, the most effective challenge to the taxonomic approach is considered to be the neo-Weberian perspective based on a less broadly assumptive and more analytically useful definition of a profession centered on exclusionary closure. With reference to case studies, the relative merits of neo-Weberianism compared to taxonomic and other approaches are examined in relation to the role of knowledge and expertise and delineating professional boundaries.

Keywords:Professionalism, Health research
Subjects:L Social studies > L510 Health & Welfare
L Social studies > L431 Health Policy
Divisions:Professional services > Vice Chancellors Office
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ID Code:10759
Deposited On:12 Jul 2013 11:30

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