Portuguese psychologists in search of the self-regulating monopoly's data from an exploratory approach to the field
sociology SOCIUS-ISEG Lisboa, Portugal
Despite literature reference to the great power of professional associations (Halliday, 1987), research on the subject, and in particular on the process that leads to their creation, is scarce. The dominant Anglo-Saxon tradition acknowledges professional associations only as a stadium of the professionalization process; frequently as an indication of the maturity of the professional project (Larson, 1979). In fact, at least since the work of Carr-Saunders and Wilson (1933), sociology of the professions has made references to it in a secondary way.
In Portugal, we have detected a trend towards professional associations? discretionary creation (Rego in Freire, 2004), with some professional associations being recently created without observing the criteria that traditionally supported their foundation. These criteria were made into Law through Act nº6/2008, which came to regulate the creation of professional associations.
The power that professional associations enjoy, in Portugal significantly demonstrated by their sizeable visibility in the media, leads many professions to pursue this statute. This is the case of the Portuguese psychologists. In 2002 they created an organization with the specific purpose of becoming a self-regulated professional association; which they accomplished in 2008.
This paper presents the results of the an exploratory approach to the field. We will present a systematisation of the stages leading to the creation of the professional association. This proposal is supported both by documental analysis and by the analysis of actors perceptions of the process (activists from professional groups and members of political parties with parliamentary representation). We will take into account the formal and informal procedures, as well as the expectations regarding the increasing role ascribed to international professional associations (Evetts, 2002).
We expect to contribute, not only to highlight the political process behind professionalization, but also to understand how the relationship between pressure groups and parliamentary political parties shapes the political decision making process in Portugal.
At the same time, we believe that this research will enrich knowledge about professional regulatory convergences and divergences in Europe.