CFP Professions at the Margins
Professions at the margins
Issue Editors: Nick Butler, Shiona Chillas and Sara Louise Muhr
Professions have become well-established at the centre of public life
over the last one hundred and fifty years. But they also bear an
intrinsic relation to the margins. The margins are to be understood
here in the broadest possible sense social, political, cultural,
economic, geographical, and epistemological. The Special Issue seeks
to conceptualize the relation between the professions and the margins
in all of its various forms.
While some occupations have succeeded in achieving high levels of
professional recognition, others have found themselves languishing at
the margins. Although medical doctors have attained a prestigious
professional status, radiologists, theatre nurses and midwives have
struggled to reap the same kind of social and economic rewards from
their work (Freidson, 2007; Scott, 2008). Similarly, whereas personnel
specialists in the UK were able to collectively organize and obtain a
Royal Charter, management consultants have tried and failed to gain
this official mark of distinction (Watson, 2001; Kipping, Kirkpatrick,
and Muzio, 2006). The case of social workers, probation officers,
massage therapists, spiritual mediums, and railway surgeons further
attest to the range of failed attempts by various occupations to fully
professionalize. We agree with McKenna (2008: 208) when he notes that
the specific reasons behind the institutional failures of these
potential professions are far more instructive than the subsequent
explanations of institutional success.
Sometimes, professions are consigned to the margins over a tussle for
power and influence. When competing occupational groups vie for access
to top managerial positions in large-scale organizations, one
profession may come to dominate at the expense of another. The case of
accountancys ascendancy over engineering during the twentieth century
provides a particularly illustrative example in this respect
(Armstrong, 1985). This tells us that the relation between the
professions and the margins is, at least in part, determined by
conflict and competition in organizational settings. But the margins
present an opportunity to the professions as well as a threat. It is
on the fringes that new services and innovative techniques are
identified, claimed, and appropriated for collective gain by
professional groups. For example, business advisory services now form
the core business for the largest accounting firms, alongside more
traditional auditing activities (Greenwood, Suddaby, and Hinings, 2002).
Professions are also faced with issues of marginalization from within.
Traditionally dominated by middle-class white men, many professions
have long been accused of excluding those who come from a different
class, gender, or race. Professional groups such as pilots (Ashcraft,
2005), police officers (Boogaard and Roggeband, 2010), medical doctors
(Allen, 2005), and management consultants (Meriläinen et al., 2004)
have all received critical attention in this regard. However, some
typically male-dominated professions like IT and engineering are
beginning to rebrand their image to attract more women and people from
a variety of social and ethnic backgrounds (Powell, Bagilhole, and
Dainty, 2009). As a result, previously marginalized employees in these
occupations are now highlighted as examples of diversity in the
The margins are contested: they mark the points at which jurisdictions
of professional practice are fought over, lost and won. The margins
are unstable: what counts as peripheral to a profession is constantly
being modified by institutional reform, political restructuring and
wider economic trends. The margins are liminal: they are the places
where professionals encounter and negotiate with other professionals,
non-professionals, clients and the state. Finally, the margins are
perilous: they indicate the threshold of ethical conduct across which
trained practitioners have, time and again, had occasion to pass.
We welcome all submissions that deal with the question of professions
at the margins. Possible themes include, but are not limited to, the
- Deprofessionalization and the failure of professional projects
- Interprofessional competition and jurisdiction disputes
- Ethics and professional misconduct
- Social class and the professions
- Gender and the professions
- Race and the professions
- Marginal professions
- Parasitic professions
- Conflict between professional associations and professional service firms
- Limits of professional practice
- Boundaries between professional groups
- Diversity and equality in professions
- New frontiers in professionalism
- Social marginalization in the professions
Deadline for submissions: 31st May 2011
All contributions should be submitted to one of the issue editors:
Nick Butler (niab2 AT st-andrews.ac.uk), Shiona Chillas (sac30 AT st-andrews.ac.uk ), or Sara
Louise Muhr (saralouisemuhr AT gmail.com). Please note that
three categories of contributions are invited for the special issue:
articles, notes, and reviews. Information about these different types
of contributions can be found at: www.ephemeraweb.org/journal/ call.htm. Contributions
will undergo a double blind review process.
All submissions should follow ephemeras submissions guidelines,
available at: www.ephemeraweb.org/journal/submit.htm. For further
information, please contact one of the special issue editors.
Allen, I. (2005) Women doctors and their careers: what now?, British
Medical Journal, 331(7516): 569-573.
Armstrong, P. (1985) Changing management control strategies: The role
of competition between accountancy and other organisational
professions, Accounting, Organizations and Society, 10(2): 129-148.
Ashcraft, K.L. (2005) Resistance through consent? Occupational
identity, organizational form, and the maintenance of masculinity
among commercial airline pilots, Management Comunication Quarterly,
Boogaard, B. and C. Roggeband (2010) Paradoxes of intersectionality:
Theorizing inequality in the Dutch police force through structure and
agency, Organization, 17(1): 53-75.
Freidson, E. (2007) Professional Dominance: The Social Structure of
Medical Care. New Brunswick and New Jersey: Transaction.
Greenwood, R., R. Suddaby, and C.R. Hinings (2002) Theorizing
change: The role of professional associations in the transformation of
institutionalized fields, Academy of Management Journal, 45(1): 58-80.
Kipping, M., I. Kirkpatrick, and D. Muzio (2006) Overly controlled or
out of control? Management consultants and the new corporate
professionalism, in J. Craig (ed.) Production Values: Futures for
Professionalism. London: Demos.
McKenna, C. (2008) Give professionalization a chance! Why
management consulting may yet become a full profession, in D. Muzio,
S. Ackroyd, and J.F. Chanlat (eds.) Redirections in the Study of
Expert Labour: Establishing Professions and New Expert Occupations.
Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Meriläinen, S., J. Tienari, R. Thomas, and A. Davies (2004)
Management consultant talk: A cross-cultural comparison of
normalizing discourse and resistance, Organization, 11(4): 539-564.
Powell, A., B. Bagilhole, and A. Dainty (2009) How women engineers do
and undo gender: Consequences for gender equality, Gender, Work and
Organization, 16(4): 411-427.
Scott, R.W. (2008) Lords of the Dance: Professionals as Institutional
Agents, Organization Studies, 29(2): 219-238.
Watson, T. (2001) Speaking professionally: Occupational anxiety and
discursive ingenuity among human resourcing specialists, in S.
Whitehead and M. Dent (eds.) Management Professional Identities:
Knowledge, Performativity and the New Professional. London and New