Professions and Patriarchy

Professions and Patriarchy

Professions and Patriarchy

Professions and Patriarchy

Synopsis

This impressive and original study is one of the first books to combine mainstream sociology with feminism in exploring the subject of the professions and power.
This is an important addition to the corpus of feminist scholarship... It provides fresh insights into the way in which male power has been used to limit the employment aspirations of women in the middle classes.- Rosemary Crompton, University of Kent

Excerpt

‘Professions’ and ‘patriarchy’, despite having a splendidly alliterative ring, are two words that are rarely put together. In the burgeoning literature on women’s employment over the past decade there has been a relative neglect of the history and nature of women’s participation in the professions. This book aims to shed some light on this issue by analysing male and female professional projects in the emerging medical division of labour. At a substantive level, it examines the relationship between gender and professionalisation in medicine, midwifery, nursing and radiography. At a conceptual level, it twins two concepts, the rather jaded concept of profession and the newer, fresher concept of patriarchy. This is, then, a work of sociology and of feminist studies.

The ‘sociology of professions’ has a somewhat dated and staid aura about it, perhaps most associated with fairly turgid and ‘Whiggish’ accounts of professional men (cf Carr-Saunders and Wilson 1933, Reader 1966). The traditional sociology of the professions was thoroughly criticised by johnson (1972) as long ago as the early 1970s for uncritically reproducing at the level of sociological knowledge professionals’ own definitions of themselves as possessing distinctive characteristics that marked them off from the ordinary run of managers, administrators, clerical workers, and the so-called ‘semi-professionals’ such as radiographers, nurses and physiotherapists. More recently, much attention has been paid to the relationship between professions and the class structure, and this focus has led to a radical recasting of sociological approaches to the study of professions. But within this new critical theory of the professions, little attention has been paid to the relation between gender and professionalisation. . .

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