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Analyzing the Professions: The Case for the Neo-Weberian Approach

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

This paper makes the case for the neo-Weberian approach for analyzing the professions. It starts by reviewing the difficulties of other main approaches to the sociology of professions ‐ including the trait approach, functionalism, interactionism, Marxism and Foucauldianism. It is argued that the issues they pose are largely addressed by the neo-Weberian approach, the key features of which are outlined and illustrated with reference to the pivotal case of health care. The neo-Weberian approach itself is then critically evaluated. The paper concludes that, despite the recent emergence of a broader approach to analyzing occupational groups centred on the discourse of professionalism, the neo-Weberian approach remains the most incisive and empirically fruitful perspective on the sociology of professions.

Affiliations: 1: Provost, University Campus Suffolk Waterfront Building, Neptune Quay, Ipswich IP4 1QJ, Email:


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