Professional Work: Knowledge, Power, and Inequality
Call for Papers to be published in Research in the Sociology of Work
Elizabeth Gorman and Steven Vallas, editors
Professional occupations have undergone enormous changes in recent years. Markets for many professional services have globalized. Information technology has markedly transformed the work that professionals and knowledge workers do. Organizations employing professionals have grown larger and more bureaucratic –and in many cases, they have outsourced core functions to suppliers of professional and para-professional labor located in the global south. New occupations such as “data scientists” are making claims to professional status, while members of many older professions are forced to market themselves in ever more entrepreneurial ways. Some professionals have become the consiglieres of large corporations, dedicated to facilitating their pursuit of business interests, raising questions about their professional independence. Some professions (such as journalism) have experienced wrenching technological changes that have eroded the autonomy (and the jobs) of many practitioners. Moreover, inequality within professions has grown sharply; in higher education, for example, tenured and tenure-track professors account for a shrinking minority of university faculty. In the face of these and other changes, traditional forms of professional self-regulation have been called into question, with far-reaching consequences for the social order as a whole.
This Special Issue of Research in the Sociology of Work solicits papers that investigate or critically explore the causes, characteristics and consequences of these changes in professional work. We welcome papers that address issues (among many others) such as:
- How do new groups of knowledge-based workers establish a sense of identity and lay claim to a “jurisdiction”? Are state-protected monopolies still important, or can non-state forms of certification serve the same function?
- In what ways does information technology undermine, reinforce, or reshape the autonomy and discretion involved in professional work—both through its direct incorporation into the work process and through its facilitation of standardization?
- How are professionals responding to growth of inequality among their own ranks? And what trends are evident in the pattern of racial, gender, and class-based inequalities among professional occupations?
- What role does professional ethics still play in curbing professional wrongdoing? What new forms of public or private regulation are emerging to constrain professional malfeasance?
- What changes in professional organizations disempower professional employees, and which conditions either enable or constrain resistance to those changes?
Deadline for submission: March 15, 2019.
Suggested guidelines: Papers should run roughly 10,000-12,000 words, including references, notes, and tables. Papers can develop new theoretical and conceptual frameworks and/or present empirical analyses. Submissions (or questions) should be sent electronically to the editors at email@example.com.