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  A profession (Latin, ‘that to which one lays claim’) is an occupational group characterized by: the use of skills based on theoretical knowledge; prolonged education and training; professional competence ensured by examinations; a code of conduct; the performance of a service which is for the public good; and a professional association that organizes its members. Professionals normally enjoy considerable social status and prestige derived from their occupation. The traditional professions are: the armed forces, the church, law and medicine.

The term profession continues to be widely debated, as a result of changes in the occupational structure and development of new specialist fields with new groups making claims to professional status: nursing, for example.

Sociologists have traditionally explained the privileged position of the professions in terms of the socially valued service they perform. More recently the self-interest of professional groups has been highlighted. Parkin, for example (see below), has argued that the professions use exclusion strategies to restrict access by means of the high educational requirements they demand, which bear little relationship to the nature of professional work, and these account for their privileges. The increased tendency for professions to be employed in bureaucratic settings has led some to suggest that the autonomy they have traditionally enjoyed is now being eroded. DA

See also bureaucracy; career; class; division of labour; occupation; role; social closure; social mobility; social stratification; status; work.Further reading R. Dingwall and , P. Lewis (eds.), The Sociology of the Professions: Lawyers, Doctors and Others; , F. Parkin, The Social Analysis of Class Structure.



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