Sociology of Workplace Second Semester Final Exam Notes.docx

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22 Apr 2012
Sociology of Workplace Final Exam Notes
Chapter 14 Professional Work
What is a Profession?
Characteristics Functionalist (because professional keeps us healthy, safe, protected, educated)
Presence of a professional association (like BAR exam for lawyers)
Advancing training and education (degree)
Esoteric knowledge base (fairly abstract, usually not in common sense body of knowledge)
Service orientation
Code of ethics (generally guided by a formally established code, power not abused)
How professionals want to be seen, social influence and authority overlooked
o Autonomy (discretion) [has advantages and disadvantages {for example more early misdiagnoses}]
o Authority (authority over patients and clients, other workers)
Definition by Power
A high status professional doesn’t just have power over clients and workers; they also have power of public
debates (ex. The obese debate is backed by medical professionals) [ex. Barbers don’t have a public debate about
how we should do her hair]
Friedson/Johnson: professions best defined by the ability to control their occupation/work/labour of those who
work for them
Foucault: professional knowledge are a source and product of power (full circle)
Government and Legislation
Most professional groups have the performance of their work restricted by government legislation
o Ex. For you can only do be a doctor if you are regulated by the government
(you cant ask anyone to do open heart surgery, but anyone can do youre plumbing [exception
for lawyers]) Illegal can get fined
o Restricting and barrier to outsiders
Restriction of definition: government also legislates many occupations that are not socially esteemed
Folk Concept
Friedson: we should treat the definition of profession as one that is historically changing a folk concept
o Thus what we define as profession changes within societies, countries, history
o Shows that profession is not a fixed concept
Critiques of Definition
Social closure:
o The ability of a specific group of people, body, institution to restrict others from membership into that
o 1. Professional schools/education requirement (High tuition fees, restricted admission)
People argue that its because of better rewards and expensive requirement but
o Thing is this also means a lot of people from certain social classes are restricted
o Social mobility has hardly changed in the last years of Canada
o The education gap between average population and professional population has always stayed the same
due to.
Credential inflation
Mystification: (Foucalt studies a lot)
Jargon: A lot of medical or legal knowledge may not be as complex as you think it might
Obscuring Knowledge (think about professors, and lectures etc. not actually that complicated
o Expert Power
In the functionalist side is good
Some people argue the notion of professional groups has changed
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o Think about doctors back then and now, the definition of professionals can change
The Darkside of Expert Power
Milgram experiment
o Authority and behaviour
How far would you go?
o 65% teacher punished learners to maximum 450 volts.
o No subject stopped before 300 volts
How does this relate to professions and the sociology of the work?
o Baumann: expert power, scientific-management style division of labour a bureaucratic
Process through which occupations acquire the characteristics and status of a profession
Is done through
1. Social Closure (Weber) (Setting professional requirements)
Education, training
Historical: eg. Restricted to white men, high class
2. Social Movement (professionalization and a kind of social government) two kinds:
A. Lobby government (ex. Nursing)
Government is likely to step in if you dont have a significant social role
B. Convince general public (might also need to pertain to the public)
Is not always a good thing, certain nurse manager said it closed off a lot of capable applicants
Canadas first professions were medicine and law, were granted right of self-regulation
Social Trends
19th century was not an easy sell for medicine, there were many health providers to choose from, preference of
midwives and judges were unwilling to convict
Aided professionals in extending their influence
19th/20th century: respect for science and belief it uncovered secrets of world
Support from elite groups
Expansion of knowledge and university
Restriction to high class white men to raise social status
Strategies and Obstacles
Organizing (as a professional group)
Standardizing knowledge
Setting certification requirements
Developing code of ethics
Resistance within occupation
Resistance outside occupation (From those in that field, but also outside of the field)
Semi- and Paraprofessions
Declining amount of professional characteristics
o Important: decline in autonomy and power
o Once your practice is under another professional group, their power declines
Semi- and para-professions
o Feminist believe this isn’t just about skill in professionalization it is also about gender
As soon a certain group becomes overpowered by women it loses its dominance
o Dominated by women however historically this is slightly changing
Increasingly strive toward greater recognition as profession (professionalization)
o If nurses take a lot of the work that doctors will do, it will save a hospital a lot of money
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Think the rise of big organizations and women taking secretary positions
Would let professors or doctors do more specialized work
Professions and Gender
Division because professions were historically tailored to the white male, with masculine subcultures
Professions vs semi-/para-professions (the ratio of men and women in each)
o Doctor to nurse
Decline in sex segregation but still segregation in.
o Sub-disciplines
Law: corporate and criminal law (men) vs family and real estate law (women)
Medecine :surgery (men) vs family practice and paediatrics (women)
They go into same field but different paying disciplines
o Men in female professions
They do well glass elevator”
Highest f-m earning ratios are in professions that are in the public sector that has a pay equity legislation
We also tend to see lower salaries for higher f-m earning ratio
Problems in Professional Work
o Gender, Ethnicity (foreign credentials, especially from coloured), Client prejudice (man might not go
women doctor, etc)
Stress (it has been found a lot of lower status jobs tend to have less stress then higher status job) due to:
o Long hours, Overwork, High level of responsibility
Physical risks- Disease and dangerous clients
Changes in Professional Work
Professionals in bureaucratic organizations
o Contain costs (hospitals, more equipment, nurses doing more work)
Also resulting in a loss of public trust (only do certain things for money)
o Proletarianization/deprofessionalization (teachers with ministry, and standardized testing)
o Organization goals = lowest costs VS Professional Goals = public service
Thus less autonomy and power
Rise of new professions are redefining scope of practice
o Rights of authority are continually being challenged, thus divisions are undermining the professional
status (Accountants)
o New legislation is destroying exclusivity of professionalism, no longer a monopoly
o Feminist perspective: entry of women leads to perceived devaluation of status
o Do women practice professions differently than men?
o Fewer work hours than men
Foreign-trained professional credentials are not being valued
Recent legislation restricting professional authority and extending state authority
Public attitudes
o Increase levels of education: demystification of professional knowledge
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