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Organizational bases of professional status: a comparative study of the engineering profession

Watson, Hamish B. (1975) Organizational bases of professional status: a comparative study of the engineering profession. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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British engineers have a lower status than practitioners of other British professions, engineers in other industrialized and developing societies, and than the Victorian Civil engineer. Explanations of this problem in terms of variables specific to British society and culture: are found inadequate, and an explanation is advanced that stresses the role played by the occupational group in determining its own status. Professions are more or less effectively organized for the collective pursuit and legimation of status. The historical development of the engineering profession in its British peculiarity resulted in a fragmented structure of organization by means of which speciality groups attempted to usurp the status of established practitioners, leading to mutual denigration and non-recognition, which eventually undermined the basis and questioned the legitimacy of engineering professionalism. while the British profession differs from some school-based ones such as the French and German in its relationship to the educational system, it is not peculiar in that respect, and the control exerted by the British profession over education and entry by means of pupilage and apprenticeship would normally have enhanced the profession's exclusiveness. Fragmentation has precluded effective measures for raising the status of engineers, measures taken by other engineering professions, and left no recourse but an attempt to found professional status on speciality standing, an effort that has resulted in the present century in a decline of the engineer in positions of industrial leadership. Accountancy is the profession most like engineering int eh structure of its organization and collective action, but there are significant differences that explain the differences in status. Engineers have been attempting to raise their occupation status by changing the structure of its organization and relationship with education and industry. The development to date will not bring about the ends of collective action, and further changes are likely.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 1975 Hamish B. Watson
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)

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