Article

Occupations and Professions

Kyle Albert and Kim Weeden

in Sociology

ISBN: 9780199756384
Published online July 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0038
Occupations and Professions

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Sociologists have long been fascinated with occupations and professions, both as forms of social organization and as the locus for other social processes and dynamics. Social control and cohesion, differentiation and inequality, collective action, power and influence, and identity formation are just a few of the topics considered by sociologists studying occupations and professions. Four strands of literature compose the sociology of occupations and professions, broadly defined. One strand tackles the division of labor, with the goal of understanding how positions in the division of labor are differentiated from one another (e.g., professions from other occupations), and how those differences are maintained. A second examines occupational communities, and in particular the relationship between occupational membership and individual behavior. A third strand focuses on the social activity of work itself, including the labor process, employer control of work, alienation and job satisfaction, unionization and its recent discontents, and the rise and fall of skills. Another thread of scholarship considers how occupations become associated with rewards (e.g., pay, prestige, authority, etc). The field of occupations and professions has diversified methodologically in recent years, opening up new modes of inquiry into some of these topics. Indeed, whereas case studies of particular occupations dominated the field in the latter half of the 20th century, major empirical research in the last decade have included ethnographies, comparative case studies, network analyses, and quantitative analyses of survey data. And, although the pace of theoretical innovation in the “professions” literature may have slowed in recent years, the field remains a vibrant arena for studies of globalization, technological change, corporate reorganization and changes in employment practices, and the emergence of “new” types of work (e.g., service work, emotional labor).

Article.  14147 words. 

Subjects: Sociology ; Comparative and Historical Sociology ; Economic Sociology ; Gender and Sexuality ; Health, Illness, and Medicine ; Population and Demography ; Race and Ethnicity ; Social Movements and Social Change ; Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility ; Social Theory

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