Enlarging the Analytical Scope of Professionalization Towards Critique

Friday, 20 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Barbara HENDRIKS, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany
Classic analytical dimensions in professional theories, like e.g. professional knowledge, professional ethics, professional routines, or professional power barely fit when it comes to the analytical scope of hybrid professional identities. A current empirical study on clinician scientists, a professional group anchored in the field of biomedicine and historically based on two strong and powerful professions—physicians and scientists—reveals analytical limitations in the context of studying professional developments and conditions. Analyzing hybrid professional identities, like clinician scientists, with classic theoretical reference points (power, routines, ethics, etc.) means to risk, in an analytically sense, a permanent ‘loop of re-characterization’—or a problem of ‘recursivity’—regarding the underlying professions the hybrid role consists of. Thus, the description of professional characteristics will be per se reduced to the underlying professions of physicians and scientists.

Hence, in order to overcome this analytical shortcoming, this paper proposes to analyze the professional development via different modes of critique based on the pragmatic sociology of critique by Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot. This proposed analytical scope is developed on three different empirical studies (discourse analysis, interviews and blog analysis) according to the professional development of clinician scientists in the field of biomedicine. Each of these studies concerns in particular different modes of critical actions, which are called ‘tests’: (1) truth test, (2) reality test and (3) existential test. The idea behind this analytical scope of ‘testing’ in the context of professionalization is to dedicate professional conditions to the persons concerned. That means to characterize the subjective professional scope by analyzing the critical negotiation of context conditions from the individuals involved. This perspective allows to define the professional constitution via their sources of (a) common sense, (b) public critique and (c) indignation. Taken together, these three theoretical-analytical dimensions represent indicators for (future) professional developments.