Elaborating Professionalism

Studies in Practice and Theory

  • Clive Kanes

Part of the Innovation and Change in Professional Education book series (ICPE, volume 5)

About this book


The subset of skilled workers among whom doctors and lawyers are counted, always known as ‘the professions’, has always had to adapt to change. But what challenges lie ahead for the concept of ‘professionalism’ itself, as the market for services becomes ever more complex, the demands for accountability more insistent, external regulation more rigid and limiting, and ethical expectations move inexorably higher? Aimed at professional practitioners, policy makers, researchers and students, Elaborating Professionalism introduces new empirical and theoretical work to the conceptual arena that will provoke fresh thinking about professionalism. Viewed in the context of the fundamental economic and social changes convulsing society now and in the years to come, the very idea of the ‘profession’ is at stake. New sources of inspiration, and even an entire new paradigm, may be needed if professionalism is to remain either a viable or desirable structure for the social organization of work. Included in the volume are empirical studies analyzing problematic situations facing professionals. Drawn from the UK, South Africa, Australia and the USA, these dilemmas have serious implications for the status of—and public trust in—professionalism and professional education alike. As well as these case studies, a number of theoretical papers included in the book explore concepts of specificity and hybridism, and point to the ‘illimitability’ and plasticity of professionalism. Key methodological issues regarding the professions are opened up for debate, even as concerns about the ethics of professional practice are raised. A rich resource for practitioners and students alike, the chapters draw on disciplines as varied as philosophy and organizational theory, yet do not require of the reader specialist technical knowledge.


accountability activity theory adult education communities external control governance hibridity human resource development learning theories occupations organisational psychology philosophy policy makers professional education professional identity professional knowledge professional practice professional practitioners professionalism psychology science makers self-regulation social change social organisation sociology sociology of work specificity vocational education work and productivity workplace workplace cultures

Editors and affiliations

  • Clive Kanes
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. Education & Professional StudiesKing’s College LondonLondonUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information