Man, Work, and Society: A Reader in the Sociology of Occupations

By Sigmund Nosow; William H. Form | Go to book overview

3. OCCUPATIONAL MOBILITY OF PROFESSIONAL WORKERS ·

Albert J. Reiss, Jr.

This paper describes patterns of occupational mobility for men in selected professional statuses. The data are for 654 sample cases of white males twenty-five years old and over in the four cities of Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Francisco in January, 1951, who held a professional job at some time during the 1940 to 1950 decade, and who worked one month or more in 1950.1 The 654 sample cases represent an estimated 240,063 white males in the four cities combined.2

The growth of modern cities and states with the industrial revolution has had a profound influence upon the professions. The increase in complexity of the division of labor, in particular, has had its counterpart in the professions. Sir Alexander Morris Carr-Saunders differentiates four major types of professions in modern industrial states.3 The old established professions are founded upon the study of a theoretical structure of a department of learning which is used in the practice of the art founded on it, and the members of the vocation feel bound to follow a certain mode of behavior. Religion, law, medicine, higher education, and aesthetics are associated with the old established professions. The new professions have their own fundamental studies upon which their art is founded. Chemists, engineers, natural and social scientists are examples of the new professions. By way of contrast, the semiprofessions replace theoretical study of a field of learning by the acquisition of precise technical skill. Technical practice and knowledge is the basis of such semiprofessions as nursing, pharmacy, optometry, and social work. There are, also the would-be-professions, where members aspire to professional status. Familiarity with modern practices in business and government generally distinguished this group. Personnel directors, sales engineers, business counselors, funeral directors, and institutional managers are examples of vocations where members aspire to professional status. A fifth group, the marginal professions, is included in this study for comparative purposes, although it is not identified by Carr-Saunders. The category is made up largely of those who perform technical assignments associated with professional assignments, e.g., medical and laboratory technicians, testers, illustrators, draftsmen, interpreters, and inspectors. The mobility of members of each of these groups is compared below.

A basic objective of this study is to describe occupational mobility patterns of men in five professional status groups, and to analyze a few factors associated with these mobility patterns. A number of studies of mobility made during the past decade provide a measure of occupational mobility in the work force based on a longitudinal view of job or work

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