Professions as Science-Based Occupations
How professions should be defined and separated from other occupations has constituted an enduring theoretical and empirical problem in studies of the professions. In this article, the definitions of the so-called list approaches, involving enumerations of social attributes, are scrutinized. Weak-nesses are highlighted and analysed. It is argued that an alternative approach to the issue of definition, commencing from the epistemic or cognitive dimensions of professions, may be more fruitful. One such possibility is presented by setting out from realist philosophy of science. The links between science and profession are explored by addressing, primarily, the relation between the concepts of mechanism and intervention. A new, ‘invariant’ definition is proposed. In conclusion, a few consequences for future empirical studies of the professions are outlined.
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