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a. a declaration of faith in a religion, esp as made on entering the Church of that religion or an order belonging to it
b. the faith or the religion that is the subject of such a declaration
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


any MIDDLE-CLASS occupational group, characterized by claims to a high level of technical and intellectual expertise, autonomy in recruitment and discipline, and a commitment to public service. The ‘traditional’ professions are Law, Medicine, the Church and the Armed Forces, but both the term and its application are still debated. Among the reasons for this are the rise of new areas of technical knowledge and specialization and the everyday use of the term to refer to any and all occupations, or to distinguish between individuals who have exactly the same expertise by some nontechnical standard (e.g. money, social class). In the sociological literature, the debates have tended to concern problems of definition and the most significant features of professions.

Until the 1970s, there was a tendency in sociological work to discuss professions in their own terms and thus to reflect a functionalist ideology of expert public service as the main criterion for professional status. An early contribution (Flexner, 1915) exemplifies this. Flexner emphasized the intellectual, non-manual character of professions which necessitated long, specialist training in knowledge and techniques, their strong internal organization to deal with communication and discipline and their practical orientation, which was seen as altruistic – motivated by public service rather than personal profit. Most sociological work until recently echoed these themes, emphasizing the high status which followed from these characteristics. Later functionalists continued to debate the nature of professions, emphasizing different elements but broadly agreeing on the essential points. Talcott PARSONS (1964a) took the argument further. He started with the familiar features of esoteric knowledge and altruism but added that by virtue of expertise and knowledge, the professional has authority over the lay person and that the characteristics of professionalism were a distinct and increasingly important feature of modern institutions. The implication that professionalization was occurring on an important scale has been a theme in much of the work on professions but has not always been developed in the same terms as Parsons or other functionalists. Whereas functionalists tended to emphasize the value to society, the high prestige and selflessness of professions, other approaches have emphasized power and self-interest. One might say that where the view from the professions emphasized the advantages of professionalism to the community, later critical approaches stressed the advantages to the professionals themselves. One of the earliest of these analyses was by Hughes (1952) who argued that professions did not simply operate to the benefit of clients, their organization and practices also protected and benefited the practitioners. In particular, the claim to authoritative knowledge means that only the professionals can judge whether work has been done properly and the professional organization can serve to defend the practitioner rather than the client. This critical view has been typical of more recent approaches. Johnson (1972), developed the argument on the relationship between client and practitioner. emphasizing the power which professionals have to define the needs and treatment of their clients and to resolve any disputes in their own favour. Parry and Parry (1976) studied the medical profession

and argued that the ‘producer-consumer’ relationship is a less important consideration than the wish to establish a monopoly of practice – to get rid of rival medical approaches. The claim to unique competence, legally supported, is the basic strategy of professionalization. Self-regulation and control of recruitment are essential parts of the process. The advantages of professional (monopoly) status are to guarantee high material rewards, exclude outside judgement of performance and give guaranteed security of tenure to those allowed to practise.

This argument sees professionalization as a self-interested strategy and, in that sense, breaks down many of the distinctions which were formerly made between middle-class and working-class occupations. Skilled manual workers, for example, also have attempted to control recruitment by apprenticeships and to protect members’ security by trade unionism and ‘restrictive’ job-definitions whereby permissibility to do particular jobs was strictly limited to a craft member. Manual workers, due to factors such as technological change and market situation in periods of high unemployment, have been less successful than professions in maintaining their monopoly privileges, but there are signs that the traditional professions are under pressure in their claims to monopoly and autonomy. The increasing popularity and success of alternative medicine, for example, and proposed changes in the legal profession, including the weakening of solicitors’ effective monopoly on conveyancing and barristers’ monopoly on higher court representation, are cases in point. These changes, though, have not diminished the popularity of professionalization as a strategy of SOCIAL MOBILITY, because material and prestige rewards are still apparent.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
In order to disseminate the message that professionalism is an expectation, not an aspiration, the center publishes a newsletter, The Professional, three times per year, with regular features on mentoring, mental health and wellness, combating loneliness, promoting diversity, and preventing bias in the court system.
Assessment of professionalism is a developing field and needs improvement on the way to generate reliable student, resident and faculty evaluation data.
In two focused group discussions six major themes were identified by the students including; professionalism training, role modeling, faculty development, mentoring, student to student counseling, and assessment of professionalism.
Various ways have been emphasised to maximise professionalism in psychiatry even before specialising in psychiatry.
The results of the present study demonstrated that the processes of assessing professionalism are still poor around the world.
The order called for the creation of local professionalism panels in all of Florida's 20 judicial circuits, "to receive, screen and act upon any and all complaints of unprofessional conduct and to resolve those complaints informally, if possible."
have all taken up the subject of professionalism. Psychology has been relatively late on the scene, although there has been fine work looking at professionalism in psychology and its implications for individuals, clinical settings and professional training in very recent years (Grus & Kaslow, 2014).
The authors note that in their home country of Turkey, ethics and professionalism education during pathology and laboratory medicine residency training is not standardized or organized.
The start date was chosen as 1 year after the Surgical Task Force on Professionalism began in 2003.
The environment in which nurses work is pivotal in supporting professionalism. Employers have a responsibility to ensure the work environment supports and encourages professional behaviours.
Defining professionalism as attitudes, characteristics, or behavior that are not explicitly part of the profession's core of knowledge and technical skill, but that are required for success in the profession, Deiuliis summarizes the elements that encompass professionalism in occupational therapy.
Conclusion: Work place based assessment is a valuable tool for professionalism. Junior doctors should be assessed at their place of work and feedback provided will help them to identify areas of deficiencies and improvement for future.

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