Opinion is divided on how far and in what ways professionalism as a mode of regulation has evolved. To date, attention has focused on the impact of neoliberal political and economic ideologies that challenge the idea that professions should be trusted to regulate themselves. This article further examines the impact of these attacks on professionalism and assesses whether they have triggered a process of decline. Drawing on a range of documentary sources from the US, it suggests that, while professional modes of regulation are evolving, the dominant pattern is one of continuity. The analysis also draws attention to the path-dependent nature of professionalism and how it is associated with increasing returns for key stakeholders: producers, government regulators and employers. The article’s main contribution is to highlight these trends empirically and raise questions about the accuracy and value of grand narratives that over-emphasise change and understate the self-reinforcing nature of professional modes of regulation.
Kirkpatrick, I., Aulakh, S., & Muzio, D. (2021). The Evolution of Professionalism as a Mode of Regulation: Evidence from the United States. Work, Employment and Society, 09500170211035297.