Professions Under Pressure: Conflicting Demands in Academic Work and Child Care
The restructuring of the public sector in the OECD-countries has reached universities and the child care sector as well. In both fields processes of deprofessionalization can be witnessed.
In academia precarious career tracks are introduced and internal power relationships of universities are reorganized as well. Committees of academic self-government lost influence in favour of the decision-making competencies of vice chancellors and deans. Furthermore producing ‘excellent’ academic output is demanded in a new extent. It goes along with controlling and evaluating academic work by new public management tools.
In child care new ‘professions’, with lower educational-demands are established and an increasing number of helpers is introduced in institutional day-care. At the same time kindergarden-pedagogues are increasingly controlled by new public management tools and they are confronted with new demands by politics and parents, which lead to new public debates about professionalization.
Instead of using the term of ‘deprofessionalization’ to describe the current changes in the professions, we want to propose to use the frame of ‘conflicting demands’. It enables us to identify shifts within the professions, that couldn’t be captured as a trend to ‘deprofessionalization.’
By presenting results from our qualitative research projects, which are conducted in Austria (interviews and focus groups with experts and employees) we want to work out which conflicting demands are emerging in both fields, and in what way they are differing or resembling.
Focusing on conflicting demands enables us to shed light on endangering tendencies within the professions, but on new tendencies of professionalization, too. We argue that those entangled processes are linked to developments and contradictions on societal level.