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Key Metaphors in the Sociology of Professions: Occupations as Hierarchies and Landscapes

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

Abstract Key metaphors guide our way of thinking in that, among other things, they provide perspective, relations, directions, distances, causality, features, and principles. The literature on professions appears to encompass at least two overarching key metaphors, one that likens professional groups to a hierarchy, and another that describes them as a landscape. This article provides an analysis of two key metaphors in the literature on professions, the purpose being to outline, analyse, and relate them to a number of other central concepts. In carrying out this analysis, questions relating to the similarities and differences between the two metaphors will be addressed. What are their epistemic virtues, and what are the consequences of privileging one metaphor over the other?

Affiliations: 1: University of Gothenburg, Department of Social Work


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