Ecologies of Boundaries: Boundary Work in Emerging Trans-Local Professional Jurisdictions

Friday, 20 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Anders BLOK, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
In recent years, ecological approaches to professional work, authority and regulation has seen a resurgence in the sociology of professions, as epitomized in the linked ecologies framework of Andrew Abbott (2005). Alongside this resurgence comes a renewed attention to the wider and multi-scalar set of socio-spatial relations in which professional groups operate, including the way symbolic boundaries within and between professions, as well as between professional, academic and political institutions, come to be defined, negotiated and changed as part of professional projects. So far, however, the varieties of situated boundary work (Fournier 2000; Liu 2015) in which professions and professional actors engage in order to forge jurisdictional claims, niches and linkages has yet to be fully interrogated. Building on and comparing case studies set in Denmark into three emerging trans-local professional jurisdictions – of climate adaptation, lifestyle disease prevention and innovation management – this paper seeks to identify key modalities of intra- and inter-professional boundary work, as this is set within wider reforms in the linked ecologies of professional, academic and political institutions. In doing so, the paper makes two theoretical contributions to an ecological approach in the sociology of professions. First, it grounds Abbott’s meso-level framework of linked ecologies in more situated accounts of inter- and inter-professional boundary work, by way of reconnecting to a wider tradition of symbolic interactionist studies of professions. Second, and conversely, it updates these latter approaches for a world of trans-local professional governance, by way of highlighting the multi-scalar relations and boundaries whereby linked professional ecologies are constituted.