Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Mid-twentieth-century theories of the professions and postindustrial society expected that the two would grow together. Instead, developments blocking professionalization in some areas and extending it in others have occurred together, raising the question: Why have some institutional fields, such as high-tech, seen little professionalization even though they demand levels of expertise comparable to such fields as healthcare, where professional institutions became entrenched and have continued to expand? This chapter reviews a series of hypotheses (historical patterns of entrenchment, counter-entrenchment, organizational flexibility, neoliberal policy, and entrepreneurial ideology) that might explain the differences. The contrast between high-tech and healthcare suggests a key causal role for historically entrenched institutional forms, as well as organizational and ideological change. Older theories of the professions failed to anticipate how technology could erode professional autonomy and authority, but the sociology of the professions still has a jurisdiction that is distinct from the sociology of expertise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Expertise and Democratic Politics
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780190848958
ISBN (Print)9780190848927
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


  • Credential society
  • Entrepreneurial labor
  • Licensing
  • Postbureaucratic
  • Postindustrial
  • Professionalization


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