Professional Fields

Professional fields are occupations (e.g. law, architecture, dentistry) that are characterized by their high status in society and, in the case of older professions (e.g. medicine, the professoriate), several years of specialized training in higher education. They also have an ethical orientation toward patients or clients that establishes trust. Their postsecondary education includes both the acquisition of theory and practical experience in applying the expert knowledge and ethical orientation that graduates will practice. This entry provides an overview of professional fields, explores their origins and types, discussing their defining features and the role of higher education in their formation, then highlights the relationship between capitalism and professions, as well as the consequences of the globalization of professional fields.


In the 19th century in the Anglo-American ...

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