The modern professions have a long history that predates the development of formal institutions and examinations in the nineteenth century. Long before the Victorian era the emergent professions wielded power through their specialist knowledge and set up informal mechanisms of control and self-regulation.
Penelope Corfield devotes a chapter each to lawyers, clerics and doctors and makes reference to many other professionals - teachers, apothecaries, governesses, army officers and others. She shows how as the professions gained in power and influence, so they were challenged increasingly by satire and ridicule. Corfield's analysis of the rise of the professions during this period centres on a discussion of the philosophical questions arising from the complex relationship between power and knowledge.
'A highly stimulating analysis … A masterful application of social theory to a historical problem … a fine piece of scholarship which puts forward a bold and innovative thesis. A "must" for researchers and students concerned with the transition of Britian from a pre-industrial to an industrial society.' - Urban History
'A significant contribution to our knowledge of the development of the professions in a book that is also a serendipity for the reader , whther academic or lay, in providing a well-written, enjoyable, thought-provoking and entertaining read' - Judy Slinn, Oxford Brookes University
A fine study of the substantial diversification in the sources of social power in eighteenth and early nineteenth century Britain … this book authoritatively fills a long-standing gap in the historiography of the cultural production of expertise.' - Steve Hindle, English Historical Review, November 1997