Professional Responsibility and Professionalism : A sociomaterial examination book cover
1st Edition

Professional Responsibility and Professionalism
A sociomaterial examination

ISBN 9781138808911
Published January 20, 2016 by Routledge
236 Pages

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Book Description

Responsibility and professionalism are increasingly issues of concern for professional associations, employers and educators alike. When bad things happen, professionals are often held personally accountable for complex situations. Professional Responsibility and Professionalism advances our approaches to professional responsibility from individual-centred, virtue-based prescriptions towards understanding and responding effectively to the multifaceted challenges encountered today by professionals working in dynamic complexity. The author applies a sociomaterial examination to specific examples drawn from different professional contexts of practice. She examines important implications for what professional responsibility and accountability might mean individually and collectively, and what it might be becoming when demands increasingly conflict, and when we accept that capacities for action are performed into existence in emergent and precarious webs of both human and non-human forces.

The chapters explore some of the most prominent questions in professional responsibility, including:

  • What does professional responsibility, and accountability, mean in the escalating complexities and conflicts confronting today’s professionals?
  • How does professional responsibility become developed and enacted, and through what social and material entanglements?
  • How should responsibility be determined in multi-agency and interprofessional practice?
  • What happens when professional decisions are delegated to software algorithms and diagnostic instruments?
  • How are new governing regimes of professional work, such as innovation imperatives, excessive audit and logics of blame and scapegoating, reconfiguring responsibility?
  • How can professionals respond simultaneously to individuals in need, the obligations of their profession, the demands of their employer and an anxious society?

A major concern addressed by each chapter, and the book as a whole, is educating professionals in and for responsibility. Specific dilemmas and strategies are offered for educators in universities, workplaces and professional development contexts who seek new approaches to helping professionals learn to critically understand and practise responsibility today.

This book will appeal to a wide audience of education researchers and post-graduate students studying professional practice, professionalism and education across a wide range of disciplines. Health professionals, professionals working in private practices, such as law, architecture and engineering, newer professions such as social work and policing, and educational professionals at all levels will find stories and strategies reflecting key issues of their practice in this detailed exploration of professional responsibility and accountability.

Table of Contents

1. Changing conceptions of professional responsibility  2. The ‘good’ professional: professionalism as governance  3. Measure for measure: expanding regimes of assessment  4.Chapter four When bad things happen: risk and blame in professional responsibility  5. Wanted: the innovative professional  6. Citizen professionals? social and ecological responsibility 7. Co-production, interprofessional practice, and the good collaborator  8. Post-professionalism? new regimes of big data and digital code  9. Risky business: social media and professionalism  10. Reconceptualising professional responsibility in a sociomaterial key  11. Professional education for new regimes and hopeful futures  References

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Tara Fenwick is Professor of Education at the University of Stirling in the UK and Director of ProPEL, an international network for research in Professional Practice, Education and Learning.


‘I would agree that there is a need for this book because in a novel way it brings together professionalism and professional responsibility, governance, and sociomateriality.’ Charlotte Rees, University of Dundee

‘I guess what the proposed book brings is a multi-professional take (rather than uni-professional) and I think if the author can pull off a sophisticated synthesis of the similarities and differences between the different professions then the book will be an impressive development on what is currently available.’ –Charlotte Rees, University of Dundee

‘The author is very recognized in the field and has published a number of well-respected books. I have no doubts in that regard!’ Charlotte Rees, University of Dundee

‘Major strengths and distinctive features:

The proposal is written with an international audience in mind

It is timely; this topic is of current and growing interest

It takes a distinctive theoretical position that will be of interest to existing scholars as well as post-graduate students

It includes a wide range of empirical examples and material’ – Alison Fuller, IOE


‘I believe that this book will be an original contribution to the literature on professional responsibility and professionalism that will interest practicing professionals, for postgraduate students as well as professional educators and managers.

I could see this book as a main text for a course on the doctorate level or master’s level, focusing on professional learning’ – Madeleine Abrandt-Dahlgren