Professional citizen relations. Questioning the assumption of functional specificity

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In classic theories on professions and professionalism there is a widespread assumption of functional specificity based on the professional’s specialized expertise and knowledge. In other words, the relationship between professionals and citizen-clients is assumed to be confined to the content of the expertise held by the professional (e.g. knowledge on health, law, or education), and a personal relationship is not expected to arise. This conception of a functional specific relationship may, however, be too simplistic and based on the practices of professions with limited and infrequent contact to citizen-clients. In other professions, however, where interactions are much more frequent and take place over a longer period of time, the professional-citizen relationship may take on a different and more personalized meaning for
both the professional and for the citizen-client. In this article, I theoretically discuss the assumption of functional specificity, and I empirically explore whether this assumption holds across three Danish professions working in close interaction with citizens. The analyses suggest that even though a professional, knowledge based and functionally specific logic is widespread in the self-images of professionals, equally prevalent is a personal, habitus based and encompassing logic. The integration of these two logics in the self-images of professionals further suggest the contours of a new hybrid, personalized professionalism. The results suggest that we may question the universality of functional specificity and begin to discuss what this means for both professionalism, service ethic and for citizens.
Antal sider26
StatusUdgivet - 2016
Udgivet eksterntJa
BegivenhedDansk Sociologkongres 2016 - Aalborg Universitet, Aalborg, Danmark
Varighed: 27 jan. 201629 jan. 2016


KonferenceDansk Sociologkongres 2016
LokationAalborg Universitet


  • Uddannelse, professioner og erhverv
  • professionsidentitet