Professional Bodies and the Regulation of Four Key Professions in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 17 (Juridicum)
Distributed Paper
Debby BONNIN, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Shaun RUGGUNAN, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
The aim of this paper is to answer the question, how professional bodies shape the professional milieu and labour markets for law, engineering, medicine and accounting professions in a post-Apartheid South African context. Historically the regulation of these professions by both the Apartheid State and relevant professional bodies occurred through strategies of racialised and gendered gatekeeping, professional closure and the manufacturing of professional boundaries. This resulted in a racially skewed labour markets in these professions, as well as hostile professional cultures towards black South Africans wanting to enter these professions.  More than two decades after the dismantling of Apartheid, little is qualitatively known about how professional bodies have shaped the professional milieu and labour markets for engineers, doctors, lawyers and charted accountants in South Africa. 

 This paper makes empirical claims about how professional bodies are changing the historical patterns of these professions’ demographics.  Second, we claim that professional bodies may experience unique challenges in a developing state context, chief of which is balancing the need of the State to ‘massify’ the production of certain professions with the professional bodies goals of controlling access to these professions. This is particularly apposite for medical doctors for example. 

 These claims are an outcome of an exploratory qualitative case study of four professional bodies in South Africa. In-depth interviews were the main data collection tools.  Interview data was triangulated with documentary data and labour market statistics. The process of data analysis was iterative with transcripts and documents coded for themes. The paper ends with some implications for the ways in which we theorise professional regulation in a developing state context as well as suggestive policy implications.