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The Changing Opportunities of Professionalization for Graduate Occupations

Tholen, G. (2017). The Changing Opportunities of Professionalization for Graduate Occupations. Comparative Sociology, 16(5), pp. 613-633. doi: 10.1163/15691330-12341438


In recent times, rapidly changing occupational contexts have altered professional trajectories. While sociologists have emphasized that abstract knowledge acquired in higher education is an important characteristic of professionalism, it is not clear whether the expansion of higher education has affected the possibility of individuals and groups to monopolize their university credentials. In this article I argue that the emergence of new graduate occupations and the growth of a university-educated labour force have made occupational closure in the professions more difficult. The changing relationship between education, skills, jobs and credentials limits possibilities for the creation and maintenance of professionalization trajectories as a professional status and a professional knowledge base becomes harder to achieve. Due to the decreasing opportunities of using formal educational credentials to achieve professional closure, aspiring occupations will have to rely more on what is called ‘symbolic closure’.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Published by Brill Academic Publishers 2017.
Publisher Keywords: Professionalization, Credentials, Graduate Labour Market, Occupations, Knowledge, Occupational Closure
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
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