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Professions et savoir

152 pages
Ce premier numéro est consacré à une discussion autour du thème des relations entre les professions et le savoir. Le débat livre une réflexion sur les limites du courant néo-wéberien actuellement dominant dans la sociologie anglo-américaine des professions. Il invite à orienter les recherches à venir vers une vision élargie de la division du travail, afin de rompre avec une certaine myopie qui caractérise les perspectives actuelles.
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Professions and knowledge / Professions et savoir

(Ç)L 'Hannattan, 2003 ISBN: 2-7475-4735-3

Knowledge, Work & Society Savoir, Travail et Société
Vol l, n° l, 2003

Professions and knowledge/Professions et . savoir
Thematic issue edited by Charles Gadea/ Dossier thématique coordonné par Charles Gadea

L'Harmattan 5-7, rue de l'École-Polytechnique 75005 Paris FRANCE

L 'Harmattan Hongrie Hargita u. 3 1026 Budapest HONGRIE

L'Harmattan Italia Via Bava, 37 10214 Torino ITALIE

Knowledge. Work & Society / Savoir, Travail et Société
Editor-in Chief Directeur de la publication
Charles Gadea, U.F.R. de Psychologie, Sociologie et Sciences de l'Education, Université de Rouen, rue Lavoisier B.P. 108, 76134 Mont Saint Aignan Cedex, France. Email: charles.gadea@epeire.univ-rouen.fr (Contributions in French)

Associate Editors
Julia Park, Mike 7TS,

Directeurs adjoints

Evetts, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham, University Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK. Emai1: julia.evetts@nottingham.ac.uk Saks, Vice Chancellor's Office, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln, LN6 UK. Email: msaks@lincoln.ac.uk (Contributions in English)

Book Review Editor
Mike Saks, Vice Chancellor's Office, University 7TS, UK. Email: msaks@lincoln.ac.uk

Responsable des comptes-rendus
of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln, LN6

Editorial Assistant

Secrétaire de la rédaction

Sophie Divay, CA-Céreq de Rouen, IRED, rue Thomas Beckett, 76130 Mont-Saint-Aignan, France. tel +33 (0)2 35 146057, fax +33 (0)235 146940 sophie.divay@univ-rouen.fr

Editorial

Board

Comité éditorial

Steven Brint, University ofCalifomia, USA Claude Dubar, Université de Versailles-Saint-Quentin-enYvelines, France Mirella Giannini, University of Napoli, Italy André Grelon, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, France Valery Mansurov, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia Vittorio Olgiati, University of Urbino, Italy Elianne Riska, Abo Akademi University, Finland Arnaud Sales, Université de Montréal, Canada Rita Schepers, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium Lennart Svensson, Goteborg University, Sweden Evan Willis, La Trobe University, Australia

Knowledge,

Work & Society/Savoir,

Travail

et Société is publishedby the

Editions L'Harmattan, 5-7, rue de l'Ecole Polytechnique 75005 Paris, France. Tel +33 (0)1 40 46 79 14 Fax +33 (0)1 43 29 86 20 http://www.editions-harmattan.fr Email: harmat@worldnet.fr

Knowledge,

Work

& Society/Savoir,

Travail

et Société

est une revue

publiée par les Editions l'Harmattan, 5-7, rue de l'Ecole Polytechnique 75005 Paris, France. Tel +33 (0)1 40 46 79 14 Fax +33 (0)1 43 29 86 20 http://www.editions-harmattan.fr Emai1: harmat@worldnet.fr

Annual subscription: Abonnement annuel:

50 euros for three issues in march, june and october. 50 euros pour trois numéros publiés en mars, juin et octobre.

Knowledge, Work & Society I Savoir, Travail et Société
Vol l, nOI, 2003

The new journal/ La nouvelle revue Julia Evetts, Charles Gadea, Mike Saks

7

Professions and knowledge/Professions et savoir
Thematic issue edited by Charles GadealDossier par Charles Gadea thématique coordonné

The Limitations of the Anglo-American Sociology of the Professions: A Critique of the Current Neo- Weberian Orthodoxy. Mike Saks Il The Sociology ofProfessional Groups: new questions and different explanations. Julia Evetts Sociologie des cadres et sociologie des professions: proximités et paradoxes. Charles Gadea Gestion et production des savoirs: un nouveau modèle de marché professionnel des cadres? Violaine Delteil and Patrick Dieuaide The quest for professionalim and the dialectic of individualism and collectivism in work organizations Lennart G Svensson Biographical notes/ notices biographiques Books review/ Comptes-rendus d'ouvrages

33

57

83

107 129 133

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Savoir, Travail et Société

7

THE NEW JOURNAL

This is the first issue of the new international journal Knowledge, Work and Society. The journal focuses on developments in the wider societal context of work-related knowledge and knowledge-based professional and occupational groups, including their practitioners, their employers and clientele. Knowledge-based work and the workers so involved currently represent a major growth sector in economies and labour markets in the developed world, as well as in many developing societies where increasing levels of education have affected both the supply of, and demand for, knowledge-based work and expertise. Topics that will be covered by the journal will be of national and international significance. They will include such areas as knowledge, qualification, competence and expertise; the marketization and regulation of knowledge and knowledge work; the interface between knowledge work and consumer groups; and minority groups and knowledge-based labour. In covering such areas the journal will encompass ongoing debates about theoretical, conceptual and methodological tools for analysing knowledge and knowledge work, as well as knowledge-based work in specific sectors and particular societal and comparative contexts. While international in scope, the two languages in which the journal will be produced are English and French. As such, the journal will include articles and book reviews published in each of these languages. Where articles are published, the abstracts will appear in both languages to facilitate understanding and the dissemination of key messages. In each issue the book review section will feature a classic text, as well as a number of contemporary publications relevant to the theme ofknowledge, work and society. Initially each issue of the journal, which will appear

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three times each year, will be themed and have a guest editor. All proposed papers will be peer reviewed. The flIst issue is based on a thematic discussion of professions and knowledge edited by Charles Gadea. Mike Saks begins by considering the limitations of the current neo-Weberian orthodoxy in the Anglo-American
sociology of the professions

-

with the recommendation

that such work

adopt a less myopic focus in relation to the wider division of labour in future. Julia Evetts broadens the debate further by arguing that the study of professions should extend its range not only to a wider span of occupational groups, but also beyond the concept of market closure. Charles Gadea meanwhile himself notes that the development of professional groups in France differs from that in the Anglo-American context and considers the implications for the sociology of professions in the French context. Moving from the macro-theoretical to the more specific empirical case study, the changing place and role of corporate executives in France in the management and production of knowledge is examined by Violaine Delteil and Patrick Dieuaide. Lennart Svensson has the last word. He analyses the implications of organisational change for the more general discourse of professional competence, with particular reference to contextualisation and individualisation. These and other articles in the first issue provide a flavour of what is to come in terms of the study of knowledge production and its employment by professional groups. In this sense, it is hoped that the new publication
will fill a major gap in the current field

-

especially

appealing

to

academics and students across the social sciences, together with policymakers, employers and practitioners in knowledge-based fields. Julia Evetts, Charles Gadea & Mike Saks October 2002

Knowledge, Work & Society Vol l, nOI, 2003

Savoir, Travail et Société

9

LA NOUVELLE REVUE

Voici le premier numéro de la revue internationale 'Travail, savoir et société'. Elle aura pour objet le développement, dans les contextes sociaux les plus variés, des formes de savoir liées au travail et des groupes professionnels basés sur la connaissance, aussi bien les professionnels eux-mêmes que leurs employeurs et leur clientèle. Le travail fondé sur la connaissance et les travailleurs qu'il englobe représentent aujourd'hui un domaine en forte croissance dans les économies et les marchés du travail des pays développés, mais aussi dans beaucoup de sociétés en développement, au sein desquelles l'élévation des niveaux scolaires touche aussi bien l'offre que la demande d'expertise et de travail hautement qualifié. Les thèmes qui seront abordés par cette revue seront de portée nationale et internationale. Ils concerneront des domaines tels que les savoirs et la connaissance, la qualification, la compétence et l'expertise, le marché du travail de la connaissance et sa régulation, les interfaces entre le travail à base de connaissance et les groupes de consommateurs, ainsi que la question des relations des minorités au travail à base de connaissance. Dans son approche de ces questions, la revue s'ouvrira aux débats en cours sur les outils théoriques, conceptuels et méthodologiques d'analyse, tant au niveau de secteurs spécifiques qu'au plan sociétal et à celui des comparaisons internationales. En raison de sa vocation internationale, la revue sera publiée en deux langues, l'anglais et le français. On y trouvera donc des articles et notes de lecture dans l'une ou l'autre de ces deux langues. Afin de faciliter la compréhension et la diffusion des idées centrales, chaque article sera accompagné d'un résumé en anglais et en français. Dans chaque numéro, la partie consacrée aux notes de lecture comprendra un texte classique, mais aussi un certain nombre de publications contemporaines relevant du domaine des relations entre savoirs, travail et société. Il est prévu que les

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premiers numéros, qui devraient paraître trois fois par an, seront thématiques et que chacun d'eux sera confié aux soins d'un coordinateur. Tous les textes proposés seront soumis à un comité de lecture. Le premier numéro, coordonné par Charles Gadea, est consacré à une discussion autour du thème des relations entre les professions et le savoir. Le débat est ouvert par Mike Saks, qui livre une réflexion sur les limites du courant néo-wéberien actuellement dominant dans la sociologie angloaméricaine des professions. Il invite à orienter les recherches à venir vers une vision élargie de la division du travail, afin de rompre avec une certaine myopie qui caractérise les perspectives actuelles. Julia Evetts élargit le débat en soutenant que l'étude des professions devrait étendre son champ, non seulement vers une gamme plus vaste de groupes professionnels, mais aussi au-delà de la notion de marché fermé. Charles Gadea, de son côté, remarque que le développement des groupes professionnels a suivi en France un cours différent du contexte angloaméricain et en analyse les implications pour la sociologie des professions en France. Passant des théories générales vers une étude de cas plus empirique, Violaine Delteil et Patrick Dieuaide dressent un bilan des changements qui affectent la position et le rôle des cadres français dans la production et la gestion des connaissances. Enfin, Lennart Svensson analyse les implications du changement organisationnel sur les discours concernant la compétence professionnelle, en s'intéressant notamment aux effets de contextualisation et d'individualisation. Ces derniers articles et les autres contributions au premier numéro offrent un avant-goût de ce à quoi il faut s'attendre en ce qui concerne l'étude de la production et de l'usage professionnel des connaissances. A ce titre, il est à espérer que cette nouvelle revue comblera un vide et qu'elle saura recueillir l'intérêt des chercheurs et étudiants en sciences sociales, ainsi que des décideurs, des employeurs et des praticiens des divers domaines sous-tendus par la problématique de la connaissance.

Julia Evetts, Charles Gadea et Mike Saks, octobre 2002.

Knowledge, Work & Society Vall, nOI, 2003

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Il

Mike Saks

The Limitations of the Anglo-American Sociology of the Professions: A Critique of the Current Neo-Weberian Orthodoxy
Abstract The now orthodox neo-Weberian sociology of professions in the AngloAmericancontext has in practice primarilybeen focused on the abstracted
consideration of professional groups. In this respect, it is claimed that for all the advantages of the neo-Weberian perspective - recent contributors to the sociology of professions have all too often failed to place their studies in the context of the wider division of labour. However, it is argued here that this has operated to the detriment of the field. Drawing on illustrations from health care in Britain and the United States, the importance of understanding the relationship between legally underwritten professional groups and those occupations that have still to professionalize is highlighted. This article contends that the sociology of professions should return to its broader theoretical roots, with future research more strongly incorporating both professionalized and nonprofessionalized occupational groups in the division of labour. Key words: professions, néo-Weberian approach, health care, division of labour.

Les limites de la sociologie anglo-américaine des professions: une critique de l'orthodoxie néo-wéberienne actuelle. Résumé La sociologie des professions néo-wébérienne, qui est devenue aujourd'hui une forme d'orthodoxie dans le contexte anglo-américain, s'est en pratique attachée avant tout à la prise en compte séparée des groupesprofessionnels.Sur ce point, il s'agit de montrer que, en dépit des avantages de la perspective néo-wébérienne, les travaux récents en

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sociologie des professions n'ont, dans leur ensemble, que trop rarement réussi à replacer leurs objets de recherche dans le contexte plus large de la division du travail. Il semble que cela se soit fait au détriment de la recherche dans ce domaine. A partir d'exemples tirés des professions de santé en Grande-Bretagne et aux Etats-Unis, on souligne ici la nécessité de comprendre les relations qui existent entre les groupes professionnels dont le statut est inscrit dans la loi, et les occupations professionnelles qui sont encore en voie de professionnalisation. Cet article préconise un retour de la sociologie des professions vers ses racines théoriques au sens large, au travers de recherches qui sachent montrer, de manière plus percutante, comment la division du travail comprend à la fois les groupes professionnalisés et ceux qui ne le sont pas. (Traduction du résumé révisée par Xavier Roux). Mots clés: approche néo-wéberienne, professions de la santé et du soin, division du travail.

Knowledge, Work & Society Vol l, n° l, 2003

Savoir, Travail et Société

13

THE LIMITATIONS OF THE ANGLO-AMERICAN SOCIOLOGY OF THE PROFESSIONS: A CRITIQUE OF THE CURRENT NEO- WEBERIAN ORTHODOXY Mike Saks

This contribution provides a self-reflective critique of current orthodox neo-Weberian studies of the sociology of professions in the AngloAmerican setting - the implications of which for continental Europe will be considered in the conclusion. The main weakness of such studies is that most of the authors concerned have established boundaries around their work. In this respect, whilst the neo-Weberian approach has many theoretical advantages in analysing the nature and role of professions, in practice its proponents have not sufficiently situated such groups within the wider occupational division of labour. As a result, a disproportionate amount of attention has focused on the abstracted consideration of established professional groups, to the prejudice of the development of the field. The argument is illustrated primarily with reference to health care. This is a highly appropriate area as much neo-Weberian work on the health professions - despite its potential - at present also all too frequently suffers from operating within unnecessary limitations. As a theoretical context, it must be said that the work of social scientists writing on the professions before the neo-Weberian approach came into vogue in the 1970s usually linked professional groups to the occupational structure as a whole - even iftheir approaches have often had other flaws. This certainly applies to the taxonomic approach to the professions, which was particularly favoured in the period up to the 1960s. This approach holds that professions possess unique characteristics that set them apart from other occupations and playa positive role in society. This is reflected in the traditional trait variant of the taxonomic approach, which is based on drawing up lists of the perceived distinctive attributes of

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professions - such as high levels of skill and altruistic service (see Millerson 1964). It is also apparent in the more theoretically inspired functionalist perspective, which focuses on explaining the systemic origin of the regulatory controls giving rise to the privileges of professions like law and medicine. In this frame of reference, professional groups are said to be granted their comparatively lofty social and economic position in exchange for non-exploitative control of what they uniquely command in the division of labour - namely, esoteric knowledge of great importance to society (see, for instance, Goode 1960; Barber 1963). Even if the characteristics ascribed to professions were more assumed than rigorously established and the importance of occupational power and self-interest in gaining professional privileges was obscured (Saks 1983), taxonomic contributors at least appreciated that such groups could only be defined in the context of the wider division of labour. The need to grasp the whole occupational picture was also accentuated in the work of the symbolic interactionist critics of the taxonomic approach in the 1950s and 1960s. They expressed concerns at the reflexive legitimation of the privileges won by professions in the taxonomic literature. Instead, they compared commonly accepted professions with other less prestigious occupations like janitors, prostitutes and prison guards, with the aim of exposing their pretensions and highlighting similarities with such groups in the workplace. Although the interactionists themselves did not always rigorously evidence their findings, they did suggest that the public symbol of professions is not necessarily synonymous with the way in which these occupations are actually organized and carry out their work (see, for example, Becker 1962; Hughes 1963). One weakness of the interactionist approach to the professions is that its proponents do not give enough attention to broader structures of power and historical processes. As such, their work focuses more on the honorific than the legally underwritten position of professions and does not typically consider the structural factors accounting for the differential success of occupational groups in attaining a privileged standing (Saks 1998b). Marxist writers, who until recently significantly rivalled the neoWeberians in terms of the current orthodoxy, certainly do not fall short on this latter count. They locate professions in the wider class-based occupational structure of capitalism by linking them to the division between capital and labour. In this regard, leading professions are usually seen as agents of the bourgeoisie or part of the capitalist class itself, as

Knowledge, Work& Society Voll,nol,2003

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15

opposed to members of the proletariat (see, for example, Poulantzas 1975; Ehremeich and Ehremeich 1979). The fact that some Marxist commentators argue that the long-run proletarianization or deprofessionalization of professions is occurring as capitalism develops (as illustrated by Braverman 1974 ; McKinlay and Arches 1985), underlines the extent to which such groups are analyzed in the context of the broader labour process. Just like the other perspectives on the professions that have so far been considered, though, the Marxist approach has its drawbacks. One difficulty is that it by definition operates with a teleological view of the state, which is seen as invariably operating in the long-term interests of the capitalist class. This is associated with a tendency by some of its advocates to avoid engaging in critical empirical scrutiny of their claims, to the point of tautology (Saks 1998a). However, Marxist contributors cannot be accused of failing to see professional groups on the wider occupational stage, not least in their rationale for the state endorsement of professional standing - which is typically related to their role as agents of surveillance and control of the labour force for capital. At a theoretical level, neo- Weberians writers, who form the current orthodoxy in the social scientific analysis of the professions, operate within a framework that opens up a broader occupational vista too. Their approach also has a
number of advantages over its competitors

-

even if the potential

of its

wider oversight of the division of labour has not yet been fully translated into practice. 1. Neo-W eberian analyses of the professions From a theoretical viewpoint, the neo-Weberian approach is based on the relations of the market, rather that those of production as in the Marxist perspective (Saks 1983). Studies centred on this approach have endeavoured to analyse professional groups in terms of the concept of social closure, derived from the work of Weber (1968). This notion refers to the process by which social collectivities seek to regulate market conditions in their favour, by limiting access to a restricted group of eligibles. The definition of a profession takes many forms in the neoWeberian literature. The basis of these ranges from direct market control of particular services (Parry and Parry 1976) to more derivative patterns of producer control over the consumer (Johnson 1972) and legitimate organized independence over technical judgements and the organization of work (Freidson 1994). Given the more or less explicit reference made