Bringing in gender, class and ethnicity into theorizing about professions
Department of Sociology Stockholm University Stockholm, Sweden
On the whole, the professions literature has paid rather modest attention to how gender, class and ethnicity operate in the realm of professions. Some empirical evidence, even though fragmentary and culled from different professions and national contexts reveals how the notions of gender, class and ethnicity impact upon the structure of, and individual career trajectories in particular professions. What still needs to be done, however, is to integrate gender, class and ethnicity into theorizing about professions. Drawing on own research and secondary sources, in this paper I argue that an analytical model that combines macro, meso and micro levels of analysis can improve our knowledge about the ways in which gender, class and ethnicity shape, and are shaped by inter- and intraprofessional relations. Instead of studying gender, class and ethnicity separately and viewing them as social categories, we need to examine how these social distinctions interrelate and how they operate on different analytical levels. Applying such a multi-dimensional approach poses a challenge to the sociology of the professions. To reach a better understanding of how gender, class and ethnicity influence continuity and change in the professions we need to examine how professions are structured, how power relations are formed in their different organizational arenas and how individual professionals deal with the structural possibilities and constraints they encounter.