XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology, Sociology on the move, Gothenburg, Sweden, July 2010



Research Committee on
Sociology of Professional Groups RC52

Programme Coordinator
Mike Saks, University Campus Suffolk, UK, m.saks@ucs.ac.uk

Congress Programme


Sessions descriptions

Session 1 :Globalization and the professions

Organizer: Ivy Bourgeault, University of Ottawa, Canada, Ivy.Bourgeault@uottawa.ca
From the migration of health and IT professionals across societal boundaries to the outsourcing of professional tasks to distant locations, globalization is having a profound impact on the work of the professions in many countries. This session will explore a broad range of issues across a variety of professions and national contexts. As such, it will consider empirically and/or theoretically the extent and nature of the influence of globalization specifically on professional groups in the occupational division of labour. Papers submitted on this theme should ideally, but not exclusively, be written from a comparative international perspective.

Session 2: Professions, regulation and the public
Organizer: Mike Saks, University Campus Suffolk, UK, m.saks@ucs.ac.uk

Professional groups typically subscribe to the ethos of subordinating their own self-interests to the interests of their clients and the wider public. However, the implementation of this ideology in practice has come under increasing challenge in recent times in many areas – with a growing number of critiques of professional behaviour. This session asks whether professions have been too heavily maligned in this respect in the past and how professions may be best regulated in the public interest in future. As such, it will consider the following key questions: Do professional bodies act altruistically? Do they require further external regulation by the state, employers and/or citizens themselves? And what form might this and any internal reforms of professions most appropriately take? Papers addressing this theme are invited across a range of professional groups and societal contexts, informed by empirical studies and theoretical perspectives as appropriate.

Session 3: Challenges to professional competence
Organizer: Jens-Christian Smeby, Oslo University College, Norway, Jens-Christian.Smeby@hio.no
This session will focus on the characteristics and challenges to professional competence. Professional competence is complex and includes ‘knowing that’ and ‘knowing how’, and descriptive as well as normative elements. Even though parts of it are research based, the relationship between establishment, acquisition and application of knowledge is unclear. The legitimacy of professional competence is mainly based on educational credentials, but significant parts of professional learning is informal and takes place in the workplace.  Such challenges to professional competence become more significant due to the characteristics of modern societies. The expanding number of professions, many with an unclear and sometimes competing knowledge base, tends to undermine public trust. Professionals are losing status and their diagnoses, recommendations and knowledge are questioned by other professionals, as well by a qualified lay audience. The introduction of formal procedures and claims for evidence-based practice may also undermine the basis of professional authority and autonomy.

Session 4: Professional identities on the move
Organizer: Lorenzo Speranza, University of Brescia, Italy, : speranza@jus.unibs.it
Both the world and societies on one side and professional identities on the other are on the move. If determinism is dead in sociology, then professionalism and professional identities do not depend any more on functional imperatives and the social system. Therefore the hypothesis is that professional identities are shaped in settings in which professions as collective actors interact with the public and the way in which the public see them. This is a three fold process. The first stage is the relation between the public in need and professionals who can meet these needs. In dealing with the uncertainty and the dependency that their life conditions generate, the asymmetrical relation between the client and the professional requires a high degree of trust by the former of the latter. The second part of the process is acknowledging how strongly this affects the building of professional identities because this cannot be done without the recognition of others. The third stage is recognizing that these interactionist dynamics have a more powerful impact than social system imperatives in shaping professional identities. The session explores this process at all stages. Empirical and theoretical papers are welcomed on this theme.

Session 5: Professions: Social integration and differentiation
Organizer: Lennart Svensson, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, Lennart.Svensson@sociology.gu.se
Social integration and differentiation are classical issues in studies of professions, to which it is important to return after decades of changing organizational framing at national as well as local levels and expanding international markets and organizations. This has created new conditions for economic, social and cultural integration. So, where are the differentiating forces and borders within and between professions today? Is there any kind of integrating common moral specifically connected to professions and professional work? Do professionals have any distinctive core values, identity or culture? And do they represent a new class and a political force of their own? Theoretical and empirical studies on these issues are welcomed.

Session 6: Board Meeting

Session 7: Professionalism and the cultural sphere
Organizer: Christiane Schnell, University of Bremen, Germany, cschnell@iaw.uni-bremen.de
The sphere of culture, creative production and the media traditionally does not fit into the concept of professionalism represented by the established professions. In contrast to the model of codified knowledge, work in the cultural sector was seen as mainly based on the idea of originality and swayed by subjectivity. But in the course of structural changes of the cultural sector and the emergence of the culture and media industry, the tasks and roles of occupations have changed, as has their structural base. On the other hand, even the authority of professional expertise in modern industrial society is being questioned, and monopolies of jurisdiction are being undermined. Against this background, the session focuses specifically on examples of the notions and dynamics of professionalism and professionalization in the culture, media and the creative industries. Papers, amongst other things, may address the questions of how far approaches in the sociology of professions help to explain developments and changes in the cultural sector – and whether the analysis of professionalism in these fields contributes to new theoretical conceptualizations of professionalism in general.

Joint session: Remaking the health professional workforce
Joint session of RC15 Sociology of Health [host committee] and RC52 Sociology of Professional Groups

Session 8: Remaking the health professional workforce
Joint session of RC15 Sociology of Health and RC52 Sociology of Professional Groups [host committee]

Session 9: Université, profession et professionalisation dans la société de connaissance
Organizer: Gilles Verpraet, CNRS, France, verp@ehess.fr
Les universités sont placées au croisement de plusieurs mutations et de  plusieurs réformes, celle de la mutation des référentiels du marché du travail (economie de service, économie de la connaissance,) et les réformes de management public sur le fonctionnement de l’université. Il s’agit d’élaborer les points suivants:

Universities, professions and professionalization
Universities are at the crossroads of change, such as in the labour market and with the increased differentiation between professions and the reform of public management. The purpose of the session is to elaborate on the following questions:

Session 10: Gender and the professions
Organizers: Ivy Bourgeault, University of Ottawa, Canada, Ivy.Bourgeault@uottawa.ca, Cecilia Benoit, University of Victoria, Canada,
cbenoit@uvic.ca and Sirpa Wrede, University of Helsinki, Finland, sirpa.wrede@helsinki.fi
The sociology of gender literature has evolved to take into greater consideration of how the influence of gender on the lives of women and men intersect with other factors such as class, race, and sexuality.  With a few exceptions, we have lagged behind in the literature on gender and the professions.  In this session, we would like to encourage contributions that apply this more contemporary perspective to a range of professional issues from micro level interactions and experiences to the meso organizational level and the macro policy and structural level.  We welcome contributions on men as well as women in the professions because gender should not be equated only with women.

Joint session: Reconnecting professional organizations with professional occupations
Joint session of RC17 Sociology of Organization [host committee] and RC52 Sociology of Professional Groups

Session 11: Reconnecting professional organizations with professional occupations
Joint session of RC17 Sociology of Organization and RC52 Sociology of Professional Groups [host committee]

Session 12: 1990-2010  Le développement de la sociologie francophone des groupes professionnels. Quels changements?
Session in French
Organizer: Charles Gadea, Laboratoire Printemps, France, Charles.Gadea@uvsq.fr

Le congrès mondial de sociologie de Madrid (1990) marque le point de départ d’un renouveau de la sociologie des groupes professionnels en France et dans le monde francophone. Ce développement incontestable sur le plan du nombre de recherches et publications s’est-il accompagné d’avancées scientifiques de même ampleur?  Deux constats majeurs semblent pouvoir être tirés de cette période: d’une part, c’est avant tout à la lumière de courants d’analyse issus de la matrice anglo-américaine, d’abord interactionnistes (avec Hughes au premier plan) puis néo-wébériens (avec Abbott) que sont abordés les groupes professionnels; d’autre part, les travaux ont le plus souvent adopté une perspective monographique, tendant à multiplier les études de cas d’une profession ou un groupe professionnel particulier. Il en découle deux grandes questions qui sont proposées à la discussion pour les contributions à cette session:

Session 13: Knowledge workers in the knowledge society
Organizer: Ellen Kuhlmann, University of Bath, United Kingdom,
Knowledge has been the backbone of modernization and a facilitator of social change. Knowledge is firmly linked to power being (mis)used by professional groups to defend their interests and define social and occupational boundaries. However, in contemporary societies knowledge is increasingly 'popularized', spreading from the knowledge towers of professions into organizations and everyday life. Knowledge is also commodified, with ever more people working as knowledge brokers. This session addresses the following questions: How do these developments shape professional action and identity? How is the concept of professionalism redefined as a mode of governing occupations, organizations and people? What role do global knowledge networks and international organizations, together with changing configurations of professional governance, play in these processes? And do the changes contribute to more inclusive forms of knowledge creation and a more equal distribution of power in society?

Session 14: General Assembly