01 SES 06 B, Theory and Research: In Search of Improvement
Parallel Paper Session
The question, whether education may be regarded as a profession, is a constant matter of debate, reaching back at least to Etzioni’s famous diagnosis as a “semi-profession” (Etzioni 1969, at that time related to nurses, social workers and teachers). While the issue can be seen as an international one, different countries provide quite a variety of perspectives towards the question. Partly this is due to the fact that the according occupations differ vastly among educational systems. As an example, adult education can be related to social pedagogy, popular education, universities or school education within the European context (cf. Nuissl, Lattke, Pätzold 2010, p. 14). However, there is a general tendency (if not strive) to establish education as a profession comparable to the classic ones (e.g. medicine or jurisprudence). A correspondingly classic approach to the question is to study, whether the according characteristics are existing (i.e. ethical standards, scientific journals, an academic body of knowledge, among others). Yet this strand of research has not proven to be satisfactory. On the one hand, the results are rather ambiguous, on the other hand, the approach itself is dubitable from the perspective of contemporary sociology, as it falls back behind concepts like systems theory. For that reason educational professionalism is rather conceptualised as a result of societal division of work, as an answer to a particular structural task or problem within a society (cf. Nittel, Seltrecht 2008). This perspective allows to analyse the relationship between certain social fields of action and according occupations, yet it does not shed light on the question, how some professions manage to gain a more or less indisputable competence for those areas while others don’t. From a methodological point of view, this theoretical focus also has difficulties to take into account the abovementioned material symbols of profession (e.g. journals).
 The terms profession and professionalism deserve a much clearer distinction. Their rather synonymous use in this abstract is solely owed to its brevity.
Etzioni, A., 1969. The Semi-Professions and their Organization: Teachers, Nurses and Social Workers, London: Collier-Macmillan. Fenwick, T. & Edwards, R., 2010. Actor-Network Theory In Education, London, New York: Routledge. Latour, B., 2005. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction To Actor-Network Theory, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. Latour, B., 1993. We Have Never Been Modern, Cambridge, MASS.: Harvard University Press. Law, J. & Hassard, J. hrsg., 1999. Actor-Network-Theory and after, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Law, J., 1986. Elements of a sociology of translation: Domestication of the Scallops and the Fishermen of St Brieuc Bay. In J. Law, hrsg. Power, Action and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge? London: Routledge, S. 196-233. Nittel, D. & Seltrecht, A., 2008. Der Pfad der „individuellen Professionalisierung“. Ein Beitrag zur kritisch-konstruktiven erziehungswissenschaftlichen Berufsgruppenforschung. BIOS, (1), S.124-145. Nuissl, E., Lattke, S. & Pätzold, H., 2010. Europäische Perspektiven der Erwachsenenbildung, Bielefeld: W. Bertelsmann.
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