Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dividing the Professionals

I am working on a survey of the Centre College alumni. One of the models that I am using is Joseph Soares' The Power of Privilege, which includes surveys of Yale and Wake Forest alumni. He divided the professionals from everyone else among the top income group as part of a test of class reproduction in elite colleges.

Dividing out which occupations are professions and which are not is a tough job these days. As Andrew Abbott demonstrated in the excellent The System of Professions, occupations compete with one another to claim professional status. New jobs invent official credentials in order to professionalize.

I try to stick to the classic professions: clergy, military (officers), doctors, lawyers. The teaching profession derives from the clergy. Librarians do, too. The hard decisions were about bankers, finance types, and computer tech jobs. I see them as derived from manufacturers and merchants.

I will test this clustering against other theories to see if it is illuminating.


LMR said...

I wanted to make a point about computer tech jobs. I think you need to divide this category into people who develop and build software and people who work with web content. At Catholic University, where I am in charge of web content, people who study the technical aspects of web development and design get their degrees from the School of Engineering, but people who work with content study in the School of Library and Information Science.

I don't know if this makes any difference in your classification, but there is a big divide, in many ways, between people who write code and people who use the web for communication and marketing.

Black Sea said...



Kerri said...

What about those in the nonprofit sector?

Gruntled said...

Architects yes. Engineers are always a problem. I included traditional engineers, and computer people who appeared to write code.

A different theory, which I am also testing, uses profit/non-profit as a crucial dividing line.

Anonymous said...

When are the results going to be published?

Gruntled said...

Hey, I am still cleaning the data. I should have tables up on my website this week, with more to follow. I am intending to publish, but that is a long road.

Mac said...

". . . Military ([commissioned] officers). . ." Beware the limitation. I know many Staff Non-Commissioned Officers (the Army would say "Sergeants" and the Navy, "Chief Petty Officers") with advanced degrees in the very same areas as commissioned officers. And they apply that knowledge every bit as much as commissioned officers.

And I am not brave enough to tell First Sergeant Robert Lee that he is not a professional!

Anonymous said...

In 1956 when my parents adopted me, my birth mother specified that I was to be placed with a couple who were practicing Roman Catholics, and professional.

Both of my parents were funeral directors.

I suppose that derives from doctors...

Dana Ames