1st Edition

Crisis in the Professions The New Dark Age

By Kevin T Leicht, Mary Fennell Copyright 2023
    224 Pages 56 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    224 Pages 56 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Crisis in the Professions: The New Dark Age presents a wide, panoramic view into the state of modern professional work in the United States. Struggling labor markets, growing inequalities, and increasing amounts of cultural and political mistrust are but a few major changes undermining the people seen as essential in society and needed to compete in a globalized, highly skilled world.

    The authors explore this profound dilemma through a variety of methods, each one allowing them to identify significant areas of change and concern. They address macro-level social, political, and economic forces at the root of these changes and pair these explanations with illustrative vignettes of young, would-be professionals to paint a comprehensive, albeit complicated picture of professional work in the 21st century. Amid a backdrop of increasing globalization, technological advance, and cultural devaluation of expertise, the authors point attention to the mounting implications these shifts have for new generations of professionals and consider alternative models to address signs of precarity and instability within the professions.

    With piercing insight and compelling evidence, Crisis in the Professions probes deeply enough to stimulate scholars and researchers invested in the sociological study of work and provides a valuable, versatile read for advanced students in these areas as well.

    List of Figures  List of Tables and Box Inserts  Part I: Crisis in the Professions: The New Dark Age  1. Introduction  2. The Context: Disinvestment in Jobs and Cultural Fragmentation  3. Technological Change, Globalization and Professional Work  Part II: Change in the Professions  4. The Value of Professions and Diversity within Professions  5. The Emergence of the Professional Precariat  6. New Professionals and New Professions?  Part III: Younger Workers and their Career Expectations  7. The Work life of Millennials and Other Generations  8. The New Dark Age: Rediscovering Knowledge as the Proper Basis of Authority  9. Epilogue: "This is not a Drill..."



    Kevin T. Leicht is Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Former Program Officer for the Sociology and Data Intensive Research Program in the Social Sciences at the U.S. National Science Foundation, and Founding Director of the Iowa Social Science Research Center at The University of Iowa, United States. He is the former editor of Research in Social Stratification and Mobility (the official journal of the Social Stratification Section of the International Sociological Association) and The Sociological Quarterly (the official journal of the Midwest Sociological Society).

    Leicht has written extensively on issues relating to organizational and workplace change, economic development, globalization, and political sociology. His work has been funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, Spencer Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and his published articles have appeared in the American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, the Academy of Management Journal, Law and Society Review, and other outlets. His published books include Professional Work (with Mary Fennell, Blackwell, 2001), Post-Industrial Peasants: The Illusion of Middle Class Prosperity (with Scott Fitzgerald, Worth, 2008) winner of the Midwest Sociological Society Best Book Award for 2009, and Middle Class Meltdown (with Scott Fitzgerald, Routledge, 2014).

    Mary L. Fennell is Emerita Professor of Sociology at Brown University and Emerita C.V. Starr Professor of Commerce, Organizations, and Entrepreneurship. She is the co-author of three other books (including Professional Work: A Sociological Approach, with Kevin T. Leicht) and dozens of peer-reviewed articles. She has served as Editor of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior and Associate Editor of Health Services Research and is Former Chair of the ASA Section on Medical Sociology. She was Director of the Brown program in Business, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations, Former Chair of the Department of Sociology, and Former Dean of the Faculty.

    Fennell has written extensively on change in professional organizations, managing change in healthcare organizations, and recognizing and managing the connections between changing technologies, changing populations of care, and conflict between providers, insurers, and healthcare organizations. She has consulted extensively for the National Cancer Institute and taught courses on healthcare organizations, research methods, and theories of organizational change. Her research work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institute on Aging. She has served as Editor or Co-Editor of five special issues on topics related to healthcare policy and change in healthcare organizations, for multiple leading peer-reviewed journals. Her collaborative work on community-based cancer care and research has been recognized by the National Institutes of Health with Director’s Awards in 2009 and 2012.

    The precarious situation found within professional work raises questions about how society will organize expert knowledge. This book provides valuable insights about the reasons for and implications of the decline of these elite occupations. – Arne L. Kalleberg, Kenan Professor of Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    This well-written and engaging book demonstrates how economic, social and political changes have undermined professional work and career opportunities in the United States. Long considered among the very best jobs in the economy – secure, well-paid, autonomous and fulfilling – professional work has become more precarious and hence less appealing. Leicht and Fennell document these changes, masterfully linking economic, social, and political trends to the changing labour market for professional workers, demonstrating how social change has implications for current and future professional workers. In so doing, they provide rich insights of interest to a broad audience. – Tracey L. Adams, Professor, Western University

    Leicht and Fennell marshal evidence from many sources to document the declining prospects for the traditional professions – and the glimmers of hope for students who are hoping to become scientists, academicians, attorneys, or physicians. – Teresa A. Sullivan, President Emerita and University Professor, the University of Virginia