The Rise of Professionalism

The Rise of Professionalism : Monopolies of Competence and Sheltered Markets

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What gave rise to our modern conceptions of professional status, and how did particular professions gain their privileged status? Magali Sarfatti Larson shows how our present conception and acceptance of profession was shaped in the liberal phase of capitalism.

Larson argues that professionalization was both a response to the extension of market relations and a movement for the conquest of collective social status by sectors of the bourgeoisie. By comparing the development of various professions in England and the United States during the first part of the nineteenth century, the author gives concrete historical illustration to the multiple relations professions form within their society.

Larson examines the new conditions of professionalization in the phase of corporate capitalism, drawing on a number of historical and sociological sources. While professions began as a mode of autonomous work organization, many credentialed occupations aspire to professionalize in order to shelter the labor markets in which they work. Larson argues that the idea of profession can function as a form of ideological control and concludes that today professionalism works against many of the values that had been historically vested in it. This classic book, complete with a new introduction that brings the work into the twenty-first century, is timely and should be read by all interested in the history and development of organizational life.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 345 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 18.29mm | 408g
  • AldineTransaction
  • Somerset, United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 141284777X
  • 9781412847773
  • 905,170

Review quote

"[This] book... [presents] a historical narrative and a theoretical account of the growth of professions in England and in the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries." --British Journal of Law and Society "This is a scholarly yet fascinating study of the historical patterns related to the establishment of professional "elites" within the American working force... Highly recommended for "professional" reading and for specialized academic collectsion." --Suzanne W. Wood, Library Journal "This is a pace-setting book... [which] represents a vital and significant contribution to our understanding of professionalism... It speaks well for this book's insightful analysis that we would encourage anyone to take the time and trouble to read it... [T]his book does make an exciting theoretical contribution, which should stimulate new empirical work in the study of occupations and professions." --Rachel Kahn-Hut, Social Forces "[T]his book is critical of the professions, univitersities which have nurtured them, and employing bureaucracies--government or private--within which most professionals work. This study seeks to clarify how professions really came to be what they are: powerful, callous, avaricious, and characterized by "bourgeois individualism..".. Perhaps the greatest contribution of this book is its integration of writings scattered throughout the social science literature (e.g., Calhoun, Freidson, Hofstader, Wilensky). The much needed demystification of the professions is a process that was begun well over sixty years ago by Flexner, extended by the Webbs, Carr-Saunders and Wilson, Hughes and his several talented students, and... [by] B.J. Bledstein... This book is a further contribution to that process, and should serve as a partial corrective to the over-idealization of the professions." --Donald L. Mills, Contemporary Sociology "This is a fascinating book, rich in ideas and analysis... The author is a sociologists with a Marxist outlook, and the "[This] book . . . [presents] a historical narrative and a theoretical account of the growth of professions in England and in the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries." --British Journal of Law and Society "This is a scholarly yet fascinating study of the historical patterns related to the establishment of professional 'elites' within the American work force . . . Highly recommended for 'professional' reading and for specialized academic collections." --Suzanne W. Wood, Library Journal "This is a pace-setting book . . . [which] represents a vital and significant contribution to our understanding of professionalism . . . It speaks well for this book's insightful analysis that we would encourage anyone to take the time and trouble to read it . . . [T]his book does make an exciting theoretical contribution, which should stimulate new empirical work in the study of occupations and professions." --Rachel Kahn-Hut, Social Forces "[T]his book is critical of the professions, univitersities which have nurtured them, and employing bureaucracies--government or private--within which most professionals work. This study seeks to clarify how professions really came to be what they are: powerful, callous, avaricious, and characterized by 'bourgeois individualism.' . . . Perhaps the greatest contribution of this book is its integration of writings scattered throughout the social science literature (e.g., Calhoun, Freidson, Hofstader, Wilensky). The much needed demystification of the professions is a process that was begun well over sixty years ago by Flexner, extended by the Webbs, Carr-Saunders and Wilson, Hughes and his several talented students, and . . . [by] B.J. Bledstein . . . This book is a further contribution to that process, and should serve as a partial corrective to the over-idealization of the professions." --Donald L. Mills, Contemporary Sociology "This is a fascinating book, rich in ideas and analysis . . . The author is a sociologists with a M -This is a scholarly yet fascinating study of the historical patterns related to the establishment of professional 'elites' within the American work force . . . Highly recommended for 'professional' reading and for specialized academic collections.-

--Suzanne W. Wood, Library Journal

-[This] book . . . [presents] a historical narrative and a theoretical account of the growth of professions in England and in the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.-

--British Journal of Law and Society

-The Rise of Professionalism: Monopolies of Competence and Sheltered Markets argues that the concept of business professional status evolved as a response to market relations and a movement for the conquest of collective social status by the bourgeoisie, and it compares different professions in England and the U.S. during the first part of the 19th century to show how professions evolved. From the influence of corporate capitalism on professionalism to how professions moved beyond the forms of work organizations to reach into credentialed occupations, this provides a thorough discussion for college-level audiences, comes with a new introduction that updates examples for modern times, and is a pick for any interested in the evolution of corporate history and professional concepts.-

--California Bookwatch

-This is a pace-setting book . . . [which] represents a vital and significant contribution to our understanding of professionalism . . . It speaks well for this book's insightful analysis that we would encourage anyone to take the time and trouble to read it . . . [T]his book does make an exciting theoretical contribution, which should stimulate new empirical work in the study of occupations and professions.-

--Rachel Kahn-Hut, Social Forces

-[T]his book is critical of the professions, univitersities which have nurtured them, and employing bureaucracies--government or private--within which most professionals work. This study seeks to clarify how professions really came to be what they are: powerful, callous, avaricious, and characterized by 'bourgeois individualism.' . . . Perhaps the greatest contribution of this book is its integration of writings scattered throughout the social science literature (e.g., Calhoun, Freidson, Hofstader, Wilensky). The much needed demystification of the professions is a process that was begun well over sixty years ago by Flexner, extended by the Webbs, Carr-Saunders and Wilson, Hughes and his several talented students, and . . . [by] B.J. Bledstein . . . This book is a further contribution to that process, and should serve as a partial corrective to the over-idealization of the professions.-

--Donald L. Mills, Contemporary Sociology

-This is a fascinating book, rich in ideas and analysis . . . The author is a sociologists with a Marxist outlook, and the book was originally a Berkeley doctoral dissertation. Its range and sophistication, however, go much beyond what one would expect from a dissertation. The author treats the rise of professionalism not as an aspect of intellectual history but as a socio-economic phenomenon peculiar to capitalism . . . This is a work of major significance that cannot be ignored by historians interested in the role of professions in modern society.-

--Gaston V. Rimlinger, The Journal of Economic History

-[This] book is important and ambitious . . . Sarfatti Larson provides a fresh starting point for the sociology of professions.-

--Michael Schudson, Theory and Society

-This is the most important book on professions to be published in years. It presents an authorita-tive analysis of the position of the professional-technician stratum in the political economy of the United States.-

--Eliot Freidson

-A sound and creative book.-

--Alain Touraine

-Highly original . . . a most unusual blend of historical and sociological scholarship and an important contribution to the de-bate about professionalism . . . the argument is, in scientific terms, elegant.-

--Ronald J. Grele

-Magali Sarfatti Larson's The Rise of Professionalism remains the most comprehensively theorized book in the sociology of professions. It draws together the many processes that go into their historical project: market closure, but also the anti-market belief in work as calling; cultural authority and educational credentialism; expertise and altruism, or at least their front-stage appearance; and the endless historical struggle for status and economic power. From the classic era of profession-building that stretched from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, to the inequalities and scandals of professions in the mean-spirited capitalist competition of today, Larson provides the most insightful guide.-

--Randall Collins, University of Pennsylvania

-This return to the professional project is enlightening and persuasive. Larson explains how the original book was conceived and developed and which of her arguments and interpretations continue to be valid and which might need modification as economic, political, and social conditions have changed. Experts are as suspect today as they were in the 1970s, yet the desire to become and be considered a professional is as strong as ever. This analysis of expert knowledge, expertise, trust, power, and privilege is timely, comprehensive, and convincing.-

--Julia Evetts, University of Nottingham, UK "This is a scholarly yet fascinating study of the historical patterns related to the establishment of professional 'elites' within the American work force . . . Highly recommended for 'professional' reading and for specialized academic collections."

--Suzanne W. Wood, Library Journal

"[This] book . . . [presents] a historical narrative and a theoretical account of the growth of professions in England and in the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries."

--British Journal of Law and Society

"The Rise of Professionalism: Monopolies of Competence and Sheltered Markets argues that the concept of business professional status evolved as a response to market relations and a movement for the conquest of collective social status by the bourgeoisie, and it compares different professions in England and the U.S. during the first part of the 19th century to show how professions evolved. From the influence of corporate capitalism on professionalism to how professions moved beyond the forms of work organizations to reach into credentialed occupations, this provides a thorough discussion for college-level audiences, comes with a new introduction that updates examples for modern times, and is a pick for any interested in the evolution of corporate history and professional concepts."

--California Bookwatch

"This is a pace-setting book . . . [which] represents a vital and significant contribution to our understanding of professionalism . . . It speaks well for this book's insightful analysis that we would encourage anyone to take the time and trouble to read it . . . [T]his book does make an exciting theoretical contribution, which should stimulate new empirical work in the study of occupations and professions."

--Rachel Kahn-Hut, Social Forces

"[T]his book is critical of the professions, univitersities which have nurtured them, and employing bureaucracies--government or private--within which most professionals work. This study seeks to clarify how professions really came to be what they are: powerful, callous, avaricious, and characterized by 'bourgeois individualism.' . . . Perhaps the greatest contribution of this book is its integration of writings scattered throughout the social science literature (e.g., Calhoun, Freidson, Hofstader, Wilensky). The much needed demystification of the professions is a process that was begun well over sixty years ago by Flexner, extended by the Webbs, Carr-Saunders and Wilson, Hughes and his several talented students, and . . . [by] B.J. Bledstein . . . This book is a further contribution to that process, and should serve as a partial corrective to the over-idealization of the professions."

--Donald L. Mills, Contemporary Sociology

"This is a fascinating book, rich in ideas and analysis . . . The author is a sociologists with a Marxist outlook, and the book was originally a Berkeley doctoral dissertation. Its range and sophistication, however, go much beyond what one would expect from a dissertation. The author treats the rise of professionalism not as an aspect of intellectual history but as a socio-economic phenomenon peculiar to capitalism . . . This is a work of major significance that cannot be ignored by historians interested in the role of professions in modern society."

--Gaston V. Rimlinger, The Journal of Economic History

"[This] book is important and ambitious . . . Sarfatti Larson provides a fresh starting point for the sociology of professions."

--Michael Schudson, Theory and Society

"This is the most important book on professions to be published in years. It presents an authorita-tive analysis of the position of the professional-technician stratum in the political economy of the United States."

--Eliot Freidson

"A sound and creative book."

--Alain Touraine

"Highly original . . . a most unusual blend of historical and sociological scholarship and an important contribution to the de-bate about professionalism . . . the argument is, in scientific terms, elegant."

--Ronald J. Grele

"Magali Sarfatti Larson's The Rise of Professionalism remains the most comprehensively theorized book in the sociology of professions. It draws together the many processes that go into their historical project: market closure, but also the anti-market belief in work as calling; cultural authority and educational credentialism; expertise and altruism, or at least their front-stage appearance; and the endless historical struggle for status and economic power. From the classic era of profession-building that stretched from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, to the inequalities and scandals of professions in the mean-spirited capitalist competition of today, Larson provides the most insightful guide."

--Randall Collins, University of Pennsylvania

"This return to the professional project is enlightening and persuasive. Larson explains how the original book was conceived and developed and which of her arguments and interpretations continue to be valid and which might need modification as economic, political, and social conditions have changed. Experts are as suspect today as they were in the 1970s, yet the desire to become and be considered a professional is as strong as ever. This analysis of expert knowledge, expertise, trust, power, and privilege is timely, comprehensive, and convincing."

--Julia Evetts, University of Nottingham, UK "This is a scholarly yet fascinating study of the historical patterns related to the establishment of professional 'elites' within the American work force . . . Highly recommended for 'professional' reading and for specialized academic collections."

--Suzanne W. Wood, Library Journal

"[This] book . . . [presents] a historical narrative and a theoretical account of the growth of professions in England and in the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries."

--British Journal of Law and Society

"The Rise of Professionalism: Monopolies of Competence and Sheltered Markets argues that the concept of business professional status evolved as a response to market relations and a movement for the conquest of collective social status by the bourgeoisie, and it compares different professions in England and the U.S. during the first part of the 19th century to show how professions evolved. From the influence of corporate capitalism on professionalism to how professions moved beyond the forms of work organizations to reach into credentialed occupations, this provides a thorough discussion for college-level audiences, comes with a new introduction that updates examples for modern times, and is a pick for any interested in the evolution of corporate history and professional concepts."

--California Bookwatch

"This is a pace-setting book . . . [which] represents a vital and significant contribution to our understanding of professionalism . . . It speaks well for this book's insightful analysis that we would encourage anyone to take the time and trouble to read it . . . [T]his book does make an exciting theoretical contribution, which should stimulate new empirical work in the study of occupations and professions."

--Rachel Kahn-Hut, Social Forces

"[T]his book is critical of the professions, univitersities which have nurtured them, and employing bureaucracies--government or private--within which most professionals work. This study seeks to clarify how professions really came to be what they are: powerful, callous, avaricious, and characterized by 'bourgeois individualism.' . . . Perhaps the greatest contribution of this book is its integration of writings scattered throughout the social science literature (e.g., Calhoun, Freidson, Hofstader, Wilensky). The much needed demystification of the professions is a process that was begun well over sixty years ago by Flexner, extended by the Webbs, Carr-Saunders and Wilson, Hughes and his several talented students, and . . . [by] B.J. Bledstein . . . This book is a further contribution to that process, and should serve as a partial corrective to the over-idealization of the professions."

--Donald L. Mills, Contemporary Sociology

"This is a fascinating book, rich in ideas and analysis . . . The author is a sociologists with a Marxist outlook, and the book was originally a Berkeley doctoral dissertation. Its range and sophistication, however, go much beyond what one would expect from a dissertation. The author treats the rise of professionalism not as an aspect of intellectual history but as a socio-economic phenomenon peculiar to capitalism . . . This is a work of major significance that cannot be ignored by historians interested in the role of professions in modern society."

--Gaston V. Rimlinger, The Journal of Economic History

"[This] book is important and ambitious . . . Sarfatti Larson provides a fresh starting point for the sociology of professions."

--Michael Schudson, Theory and Society

"This is the most important book on professions to be published in years. It presents an authorita-tive analysis of the position of the professional-technician stratum in the political economy of the United States."

--Eliot Freidson

"A sound and creative book."

--Alain Touraine

"Highly original . . . a most unusual blend of historical and sociological scholarship and an important contribution to the de-bate about professionalism . . . the argument is, in scientific terms, elegant."

--Ronald J. Grele

"Magali Sarfatti Larson's The Rise of Professionalism remains the most comprehensively theorized book in the sociology of professions. It draws together the many processes that go into their historical project: market closure, but also the anti-market belief in work as calling; cultural authority and educational credentialism; expertise and altruism, or at least their front-stage appearance; and the endless historical struggle for status and economic power. From the classic era of profession-building that stretched from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, to the inequalities and scandals of professions in the mean-spirited capitalist competition of today, Larson provides the most insightful guide."

--Randall Collins, University of Pennsylvania

"This return to the professional project is enlightening and persuasive. Larson explains how the original book was conceived and developed and which of her arguments and interpretations continue to be valid and which might need modification as economic, political, and social conditions have changed. Experts are as suspect today as they were in the 1970s, yet the desire to become and be considered a professional is as strong as ever. This analysis of expert knowledge, expertise, trust, power, and privilege is timely, comprehensive, and convincing."

--Julia Evetts, University of Nottingham, UK
show more

About Magali Sarfatti Larson

Magali Sarfatti Larson is professor emeritus of sociology at Temple University and at the University of Urbino, Italy. She has been a member of the editorial board of Politics and Society since 1975 and is on the advisory board of Cultural Sociology, Theory and Society, Sociological Forum, and the American Journal of Cultural Sociology. Her books include Behind the Postmodern FaCade, Spanish Bureaucratic Patrimonialism in America, and Social Stratification in Peru.
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