I will include some of the readings from the chapters for you to use. Please be sure to be persuasive . I have included papers on professional work, factory work, and service work so please read them and include some information in the writing !!! ( This step is very important)
Respond to the following in 4-5 pages
The American workforce is now largely a service workforce. Farming and manufacturing combined account for just about 25% of the all work activity. Using evidence from readings on professional work, factory work and service work, make a persuasive argument (a persuasive argument MUST be able to hold up to counterevidence) for whether you think that the shift to a mostly service economy is positive or not. Take into consideration issues discussed including wages, working conditions, work autonomy, the overall fate and stability of the American middle class.
Personal experiences and opinions are always welcomed, but you must provide empirical evidence from the readings to substantiate your position.
N.B. should be typed in Times New Roman 12 point.
Jerry Van Hoy. “The Organization of Mass Production Law.”
Barley and Kunda. “Unlikely Rebels.”
Brannon. “Professionalism and Work Intensification.”
For the next three weeks, we will focus on different types of work. We will cover three broad
categories of work: professional work, factory work and service. We begin this week with
readings on professional work. So what exactly is professional work? Sociologists see
professional work as possessing a set of traits or characteristics which distinguishes it from other
Five commonly cited characteristics of professional work:
1. Highly specialized, abstract knowledge a. This work often requires advance degrees and some type of licensing or
b. Knowledge is usually monopolized by persons in the profession c. Examples: physicians, lawyers, college professors, architects, clergy, dentists,
engineers, chemist, biologists
2. Autonomy – professionals are usually self-directed or at least have substantial control over their work.
3. Authority over clients and subordinate occupations – patients typically follow their medical doctors advise; students listen to professors, clients take legal advice from
lawyers; licensed social workers determine clients treatments and services
4. Code of ethics – usually follows a set of guidelines for the relationship between the professional, the clients and the larger community.
a. These guidelines are usually established by a professional association which is made up of persons within the profession.
5. Professional associations which regulate and exert substantial influence and control over the profession. Eg. The American Bar Association accredits law schools.
While not a recognized characteristic of professions, we find that most occupations that fit the
above criteria of professions are mostly dominated by men.
Semiprofessionals and Paraprofessionals
Semiprofessionals are occupational groups that have some characteristics of professions, but not
all or are in some way.
Examples: elementary and secondary teachers, librarians, social workers, registered
nurses; human resources, systems analyst, pharmacist, dental hygienists, dieticians.
For the most part persons in these occupations have at least a college education, often a code of
ethics, limited autonomy and authority. For example, nurses are generally subordinate to
medical doctors and elementary and secondary school teachers have less autonomy and authority
than college professors.
Paraprofessions are occupational helpers to major professions.
Examples: paramedics, paralegals, physician assistants, LPNs, teaching assistants
Where we find that professions tend to be dominated by men, we find that semiprofessions and
paraprofessions are mostly occupied by women.
Jerry Van Hoy. The Organization of Mass Production Law.”
In the first assigned reading, Jerry Van Hoy examines the issue of deprofessionalization in a
profession that we may not generally think of as one that is vulnerable to deprofessionalization.
Sociologist Arthur G. Neal defined deprofessionalization as “the process of weakening or
eliminating the characteristics of a profession” (Neal 2007). One way in which this is done, is to
the strip away or demystify the knowledge of the profession. For example, while medical
doctors still enjoy substantial authority, the availability of websites offering medical information
has made it easier for individuals to self-diagnose or question prescribed treatments more so than
they would have done in the past when such information was not available. In other words,
medical doctors no longer have complete monopoly on medical knowledge.
Van Hoy argues that a similar trend is occurring in the law profession. This trend is facilitated
by the rise of shopping mall franchise law firms. Most of the legal professionals, the staff
attorneys, in these types of law firms are new law school graduates who work directly with
clients, but they usually work for a managing lawyer who was contracted by a larger law firm.
These lawyers are considered extra legal help and are paid substantially less than other lawyers
at regular law firms. They are not treated as professionals with specialized knowledge, just
additional bodies to help generate revenue for the law firms by taking on huge case loads. Also,
their inexperience diminishes the authority gap between lawyers and clients. Thus, Van Hoy
sees these franchise law firms as the “fast food” of the legal profession, which diminishes the
overall status of the profession.
Barley and Kunda “Unlikely Rebels.”
In the second article, Barley and Kunda brings us back to the issue of contingent work, however,
they focused on highly skilled technical experts. They used three cases (Kent, Yolanda and
Julian), all information technology experts in the Silicon Valley district in the 1980s and 1990s,
to examine competing arguments for the impact of contingent work on the contract workers.
Two of the participants, Kent and Yolanda, appeared to choose contract work over permanent
employment so that they could have greater job autonomy and higher pay. Julian was thrust into
contract work after being fired from traditional, fulltime job.
The first argument, the institutionalists approach, asserted that contingent work was a concerted
effort by employers to abandon their responsibility to employees by denying them permanent
employment with health and retirement benefits. The second argument, the free agency
approach, asserted that contract work was a way for workers to take control of their skills by
selling them to the highest bidder, the result being higher pay and greater job autonomy.
The three cases used in the article appeared to show a bit of support for each argument. All three
contract workers had higher hourly wages than similar permanent employees. With the
exception of Kent, who was said to work about 30 hours a week, Yolanda and Julian worked
more than 40 hours per week. Julian and Yolanda had to go through employment agencies to get
work, but Kent was fortunate to find continuous work through friends. All three were
responsible for finding their own health coverage and were fully responsible for their retirement
savings; there was no employer 401k match. While we were only told about Julian explicitly, it
appears that none of the three actually had health insurance. In sum, these workers got a higher
hourly wage, but lacked additional benefits of regular employees. So which argument was
correct, that of the intuitionalists or free agency advocates? As the authors point out, the debate
is far from being settled. Which would you prefer, higher pay or more job security with
An important note, however. The authors treat these workers as professionals, but based on the
criteria outlined above, the fall more into the camp of semiprofessionals. They possess highly
technical knowledge and increased autonomy, at least in Kent’s case, but they lacked authority
over the clients and did not have an organized professional body with a set self-regulating ethical
Brannon. “Professionalism and Work Intensification.”
In the final reading for the week, Robert Brannon examines challenges to professionalization in
nursing. Brannon argues that changes in nursing during the 1970s and 1980s that were meant to
professionalize nursing may have had the opposite effect.
Prior to the 1980s, RNs, LPNs and nurse aides worked in teams. The RNs supervised LPNs and
nurse aides in doing the “dirty work” such as cleaning up after patients, giving bath and so forth.
However, the changes implemented during the 1970s and 1980s which did away was the
stratification of nursing by reducing the number of LPNs and nurse aides and transferring more
direct patient care to RNs, may have created obstacles to professionalization.
The goal was to have more “professional” RNs to provide primary care and, through education
and credentialing, nurses would be been as physicians’ colleagues, not just subordinates.
However, it appears that by having more RNs doing “dirty work,” the occupation was somewhat
diminished in status instead of being enhanced. Brannon also suggests that the majority female
composition and bureaucratic structure for managing nurses may have contributed to failed
efforts to fully professionalize.
The sociological criteria for what constitute professional work are quite narrow. Do you think
that experts in manual labor occupations such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters should be
considered professionals? Why or why not? Present a persuasive argument in support of the
position you take.
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