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Professional Fields and Truth Regimes: In Search of Alternative Approaches

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

Sociology of the professions has faced difficulties in delineating and defining the core of its object of study, the concept and phenomenon of profession. Setting out from the so-called French epistemological tradition, this article tries out a new possibility. It is argued that if there are trans-historical elements in professions, they are found at the cognitive side, as a certain reasonably invariant cognitive structure. The structure implies that a specific type of (scientific) knowledge can be coupled with professional practice, that is, know-why is linked to know-how. This is what the notion of profession primarily should be based on. Science, profession, and “object” together constitute a “truth-regime” in Foucault’s sense. On the other hand, the social side of professions is historically variable. Indeed, the social attributes of a profession changes with social transformations and external interests, with its position in Bourdeauian professional fields, and with its relations in “the professional complex.” The article concludes with a suggestion for a new definition of professions.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, University of Lund Sweden, Email:


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