An Emerging Profession: Mechatronic Engineering In South Africa "CANCELLED"

Monday, July 14, 2014: 4:30 PM
Room: Annex F205
Quraisha DAWOOD , Industrial, Organisational and Labour Studies, University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban, South Africa
The professions have perpetually arisen as a topic of contention within the sociology of professions. For the most part, these debates have centred on the definition of the term ‘profession.’ However, only a few have concerned themselves with the question of how new professions emerge and become established. Fewer have investigated this process contextually. The paper explores this question from the perspective of new, emerging professions in South Africa. It attempts to interrogate the question in two sections. The first sections draws on the literature within the sociology of professions and the relevance of traditional professions and models of professional development. It will also draw on theoretical meanings embedded in the emergence of a new profession. These include the concepts of qualification, cultural mandates and closure. Through this analysis, I will argue that a contextual or practical analysis into the emergence of professions is necessary.

In the second section, I draw on the practical example of the emerging profession of mechatronic engineering in South Africa. This section, based on fieldwork, focuses on 3 issues. These include- what constitutes mechatronic engineering as new or emerging, how the concepts discussed in the first section interact or shape the emergence of mechatronic engineering, and finally, the challenges to the emergence of this profession in South Africa. The paper draws on current qualitative research throughout the country using the snowball or referral method. This paper hopes to contribute South African voice to the literature on emerging professions and provide new insight into a novel profession.