In a changing world of work and governance, there is a widespread perception that the traditional professions are under siege. Their authority and status, their exclusive access to specialised knowledge, and their right to regulate their own affairs are all seriously being challenged. No longer able to claim special privileges as disinterested, altruistic occupational groups acting detachedly in the public interest, professions are finding their traditional values and loyalties eroded.
The challenge is coming not only from a better informed and less deferential public, but also from governments sensitive to public concerns, from the media which reflect and amplify them, and from the organisations in both public and private sectors which employ their members.
Representatives of ‘old’ professions are being asked to work in entirely different ways, and ‘new’ professions are emerging all the time in areas like management, culture, meditation, counselling and the environment.
Do we still need ‘professions’ based on the 20th century model (itself a creation of the 19th century before) – self‐appointed, self‐assessed and self‐serving guardians of standards, values and social stability?
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