Differing Attitudes Towards Professionalization

Check out, The Three Approaches to Professionalization in Technical Communication, one of the articles in the special issues on professionalization in the journal, Technical Communication.    

The article explores internal divisions within the profession by exploring a spectrum of attitudes towards professionalization.  At one of the spectrum is professionalization, which seeks to formalize the practice and preparation for the profession. At the other end of the spectrum is contra-professionalization, which actively resists efforts to professionalize.
Here is the abstract of the article:

Purpose:  Explores internal divisions within our profession by exploring one particular type of tension that exists: that technical communicators do not have a unified view of professionalization for the field.

Methods:  Proposes that prevailing approaches to professionalization are rooted in theories of occupations, the exclusive right to perform a job. Trueoccupations have such rights legally; aspiring occupations like ours areprofessions.  Common components of an infrastructure for occupations includes professional organizations, bodies of knowledge, education, professional activities, and certification.

Results:   Professions often establish these in anticipation of becoming an occupation, but some practicing professionals interpret and use them differently, resulting in a spectrum of approaches to professionalization.
At one end of the spectrum is formal professionalism, which views professionalization as a stepping stone to full occupational status. It is rooted in a worldview that values expertise and sees the infrastructure of an occupation supporting the development of expertise and controlling access to the profession.

In the center of the spectrum is quasi-professionalization, in which individuals participate in the activities of the occupational infrastructure but without the expectation of exclusive rights to perform the work. Quasi- professionalization is rooted in professional identity.

At the other end of the spectrum is contra-professionalization, which refers to initiatives that offer or promote professional services outside of parts or all of the infrastructure, sometimes circumventing it completely. This world view is rooted in market theory and characterized by  concepts like Do-It-Yourself (DIY), user-generated and Subject Matter Expert (SME)-provided documentation.

Conclusions:  The differing views suggest tensions regarding support for specific efforts to professionalize technical communication, including formal branding of the profession, establishment of certification, and support for professional organizations.

To see the complete article, visit http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/stc/tc.  (Note: Only free to members of the Society for Techincal Communication and to those entering through university libraries with a subscription to IngentaConnect.)

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