A History of Professionalism: Julius Henry Cohen and the Professions as a Route to Citizenship

By Roiphe, Rebecca | Fordham Urban Law Journal, November 2012 | Go to article overview

A History of Professionalism: Julius Henry Cohen and the Professions as a Route to Citizenship


Roiphe, Rebecca, Fordham Urban Law Journal


Introduction I.  The Professions in Historical Context       A. A Short History of the Professions in America       B. The Professions and Professionalism: A          Historiography II. Julius Henry Cohen and the Professionalism Melting Pot III. Beyond the Multiculturalism-Assimilation Divide Conclusion: Relevance of Professionalism as a Route to      Participation in a Post-Multicultural State 

INTRODUCTION

This Article revives and defends a largely discredited history of professionalism. It argues that the rhetoric of the professions at the turn of the twentieth century provided immigrants, minorities, women, and outsiders of all sorts with an imagined route to citizenship. This rhetoric combined with the partially open doors of the profession helped people to move from the periphery to the center. It helped newcomers, who were viewed as at best irrelevant and at worst a burden on America, to transcend their role as outsiders and see themselves as architects of a new and just social order. It also provided a way for women and minorities to translate their experience on the periphery into a new vision for the American polity. Professionalism, in other words, served an important function. It provided a growingly diverse and intensely divided country with an arena in which to negotiate these differences and translate them into a common language.

For years, historians and sociologists have reminded us of just how harmful professionalism can be. They have ably and powerfully documented the abuses committed in the name of the professional ideal. But relatively few in recent years have uncovered or even recognized professionalism's more beneficial side. (1) This Article seeks to correct that distortion. In doing so, it begins what will hopefully be an ongoing effort to use history to identify aspects of profession and the rhetoric that accompanies it that are worth preserving.

Professionalism is such an elastic concept that it can and has served many different purposes over the years. Some of those purposes have been pernicious--the rhetoric of the professions has, for example, been used to justify the exclusion of newcomers of all sorts, particularly ethnic and racial minorities and women. (2) It has been used to create hierarchies within the profession and reinforce unjustified monopolies. (3) But other purposes have been more benign. Professionalism, for instance, has also served as a repository for a certain version of the American Dream. (4) It has stood for the ability of individuals on the outskirts to make their way, in one generation at most, to the inner circles of American society. (5) The imagined role of professions was itself useful to those who fought to achieve status through professional advancement. Not only did it provide motivation, it also supplied meaning for their pursuit.

So, this Article argues, professionalism did not simply serve as a way to consolidate the power of a new middle class elite. It did not grow, as the sociologist Andrew Abbott has suggested, solely from a monopolistic impulse--a way to lay claim to a jurisdiction and protect against the intrusion of other professions and occupations. (6) It was not, as Jerold Auerbach has suggested, purely a product of the elitism, greed, and xenophobia of a particular social and economic class. (7) Nor was it only a cultural process by which an emerging middle class defined itself and consolidated its power. (8) Of course, exclusion and elitism were a big part of the story, but they were not the only part. The blend of elitism and egalitarianism in the rhetoric of the professions allowed for a greater emphasis on the latter. As such, immigrants, women, and other ethnic minorities could use the rhetoric of professionalism for their own purposes.

After unearthing this more benign history of professionalism, this Article argues that this turn-of-the-twentieth-century version of professionalism is still relevant and desirable today. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A History of Professionalism: Julius Henry Cohen and the Professions as a Route to Citizenship
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.