Professionalism: The Market for Services and Real Estate
Many of the attempts to reintroduce professional ethics in real estate reflect sincere and well intentioned efforts but are flawed by the absence of a systematic philosophical understanding of the relationships that exist between professionals and the community. This lack of understanding is due to both the state of moral philosophy in the twentieth century and the tensions between the professions and the community. The essence of professionalism lies in the specialized knowledge required in an occupation that is impractical for most members of a community to appropriate or evaluate. A professional uses specialized knowledge in a way that is trusted, but not understood, by the community, which gives rise to the necessity for professional associations, self-regulation, and specific codes of ethics and also accidental qualities that have come to be associated with professionalism, such as status and income.
Historically, the medieval guilds offer the prototype for professional associations, and their relationship to the community provides insights into professionalism today. These are reviewed and separated from the historical distortions of the intervening centuries that still heavily color our contemporary understanding.
Real estate is one of the several occupational areas that have appropriated the income and status associated with the professions. An analysis of the other necessary qualities of professionalism offers a test to establish how earnestly these occupations seek genuine professional status, especially in a world where many established professions are adopting practices that are not genuinely professional.
Current trends in professionalism are located as the product of philosophical systems underpinning social changes broadly known as postmodernism. The implications of postmodern professionalism for the real estate occupations are considered with the cautions they naturally generate.
KeywordsReal Estate Policy Issue Moral Philosophy Professional Association Professional Ethic
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