chapter  5
The Inevitability of Professions?
ByROBERT DINGWALL
Pages 15

For more than half a century, successive generations of students have been taught that professional dominance is a problem. Professions are said, in the words of the Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, to be “conspiracies against the laity,”1 cartels that exploit a market advantage, shield their incompetent members and use class, gender, and race privilege to exclude and oppress minorities in the interests of capital. This image has driven public policy in both the United States and the United Kingdom to create an environment where virtually all of these assertions are now empirically highly questionable, if not demonstrably untrue. Ironically, the result of these interventions has been to stimulate more sophisticated analyses of what professions do and why they may be socially desirable, to the point where it is clear that current policies are throwing out a nursery full of babies with the bathwater.