Professions are occupations that claim control over specific tasks through the mastery of abstract knowledge. Most theoretical development in the professions has focused on defining professional work, explaining the rise and dominance of professional groups, developing models of professional organization, and discussing systems of professions and knowledge claims.

Control over abstract knowledge confers legitimacy on professional groups, and this legitimacy usually translates into social prestige, power, and rewards for professionals. A key to understanding professions is the knowledge claims that professional groups make. These are rhetorical and institutional claims that professionals have exclusive control over specific tasks because the professional has mastered the abstract knowledge necessary to understand when, where, how, and under what conditions specific tasks will be performed.

In addition to knowledge claims, professions usually ...

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