Constructs of Professionalism in Civic Practice: Asking People at the Front Line.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:36
Location: Hörsaal 17 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Phil HARINGTON, University of Auckland, New Zealand
It is highly plausible that a range of work from voluntary activity to paid employment will be expected to engage in ‘civic practice’. That is to actively enhance community self-reliance, foster capacity building, increase participation, reduce barriers, develop community infrastructure or improving the health of the community, preserve or extend the visibility of arts, culture, and national identity, or empowering the voices of others to strengthen civic society. A range of people working to these ends were interviewed to examine if a construct of professionalism informed the way they framed their occupational identity and their practice. A fifty item scale was used to assess how much they valued characteristics of professionals across five elements of professionalism and their scores ranked. Discussion follows on how the respondents valued the knowledge, ethics, skills, research and reward elements of a professional domain. The results showed practitioners ranked all elements of professionalism to some degree. They rated items from only three elements in the top ten responses. They valued the forms of rewards they get from the work, the skills they brought to the job and the knowledge they were able to apply in the top ten responses. The next tranche of ten responses ranked ethics items highly while elements to do with researching practice or engaging in professional development – more training, attending conferences etc, were in the bottom tranches. Discussion of outcomes suggests that practitioners base their ‘professionalism’ in the focus and terms of their employment rather than the development of an occupational discipline or membership of a unifying profession. Discussion provides insight into the value of professionalism within an occupational domain and gives rise to debate on the scope for civic practice to adopt a professional identity.