SOSA 2141 Lecture Notes - Lecture 23: Ivan Illich

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March 30, Week 13 – Sociological Insight into Professions
What is a profession?
A distinct type of occupation/occupational group that:
Is closed – limiting access and membership to people with specific
credentials – through a process called ‘professionalization’
Is bound by explicit norms, values and codes of ethnic
Gains higher incomes, prestige and control over the labour
Professionalization: the process by which an occupational group becomes a
Involves closure – excluding and including members on the basis of criteria
such as credentials, experience, and sworn adherence to codes of ethnics
(but historically gender and race too)
Helps the group secure higher pay, prestige, control over the work, and
other advantages
Professionalization of Medicine
Increasing specialization
Pushing out the “quacks”
Separating qualified doctors from quacks – qualified doctors kept in medical
Canadian, American and British Medical Associations (1800s)
Along with these came a code of ethics that dictated what a doctor could and
could not do
Explanations of Professionalization
Functional perspective: because doctors have all the expertise and patients
have none, we needs codes, rules and standards to ensure that patients
trust doctors – professionalization is about protecting the patient from harm
and serving patients’ needs
Critique: actually, professionals dictate and impose the need, and
professionalize in order to have monopoly control over serving that need –
it’s about power and money
Defines the needs and who is going to serve it at the same time
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