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services independently of the particular characteristics

of their patients, such as gender; they are

affectively neutral in that they do not stand in

moral judgment of their patient’s condition; they

are oriented to the good of the collective; and they

are functionally specific, dealing only with the

issue at hand and using the best scientific knowledge.

In contrast, contemporary sociologists of

the professions emphasize their self-interested

practice of social closure, thereby maintaining

occupational autonomy to enhance their incomes

and keeping competitors out. While Parsons

pointed to the long period of training for professionals

as central to their socialization into

the profession’s ethical standpoint, contemporary

sociologists regard such training as a protracted

gate-keeping exercise. Eliot Freidson in Profession of

Medicine: A Study of the Sociology of Applied Knowledge

(1970) and Professional Dominance: The Social Structure

of Medical Care (1970) argued that the medical

profession dominates in the health sector, not as

a consequence of its scientific, humanitarian

ethos, but because it is politically well organized.

Medicine maintains its aura of high standing, despite

the often degrading nature of its work, effectively

passing such dirty work onto subordinate

occupations such as nursing. Sustained analysis

of the actual ways in which doctors practice,

carried out by sociologists in grounded theory,

demonstrated that doctors were not universalistic

in their orientation to treatment, with significant

variations in their dealings with women and

ethnic minorities. In fact, the profit motive was a

significant factor in their clinical decisionmaking.

Overall then, the positive evaluation of the professions

that is the legacy of Durkheim and Parsons

has not fared well following empirical analysis of

the ways in which the professions actually operate

in society.

Other social changes, particularly the rise of

neoliberalism in the political sphere, are having

a substantial impact on the structure and work of

professionals. Economic policymakers in the state

sector are now disposed to view professional associations

as anti-competitive cartels, and to regard

professional self-regulation and exclusion of competitors

(who may perform the same services more

cheaply) as merely self-interested. Other social

changes, such as the rise of an educated public,

make consumers of professional services more

cautious and skeptical of professional knowledge

claims. The organization of consumer groups provides

a platform to question such expert systems.

Furthermore, the inability or lack of will on the

part of professional organizations to discipline

errant members has led to far greater legal control

over practitioners as the public takes to the

courts as the first line of action. Technological

changes have led to the routinization of much

professional work and the claim to practice on

the basis of an esoteric body of knowledge has

been considerably weakened, especially in medicine,

engineering, and architecture as computer

programs replace professional judgment. Linked

with a decline in self-employment and the rise

of corporate employers, it has been argued, following

Karl Marx, that the professions are being

proletarianized. This proletarianization can take

two forms: ideological proletarianization refers to

the loss of autonomy over the setting of policies,

goals, and objectives of and by the profession;

and technical proletarianization refers to the

loss of control over work practices by the professional.

While there is considerable debate over

this claim, it is clear that there has been significant

de-professionalization as doctors, lawyers,

and architects, for example, perform work under

the control of bureaucratic superiors. Furthermore,

under these conditions of employment their

responsibility is not to their client but to the shareholders

who expect a profitable return on their

investment. In turn the professions themselves

have started to fragment, a process in which the

elite within the profession continues to enjoy considerable

autonomy, and a dependent stratum are

supervised by superiors. This erosion of autonomy

occurred especially in law and general practice,

where, increasingly, female employees perform

routine tasks that are monitored by superiors in

the professional hierarchy. These changes in professional

medicine were clearly documented in

Paul Starr’s The Social Transformation of American

Medicine. The Rise of a Sovereign Profession and the

Making of a Vast Industry (1982). While the professions

may still enjoy reasonable social status, high

incomes, and have more freedom than those in

other occupations, they have also experienced significant

inroads into their autonomy and all indications

are that this will increasingly be the case.



The view that the human world has advanced, is

advancing, and will continue to advance in the

future. It is opposed to all ideas of a past Golden

Age, or the sense of decadence and decline. It

expresses a basic optimism and confidence in

the ability of humans to resolve their problems,

and to increase in prosperity, morality, and

understanding with the passage of time.

profession(s) progress


Historically speaking, the idea of progress is

relatively new. It first arose in western Europe in

the second half of the seventeenth century. In a

battle of the books between the Ancients and the

Moderns, the Moderns achieved a decisive victory

in arguing that modern people could advance as

far and indeed farther than the ancient Greeks

and Romans, who for much of the past thousand

years had continued to be accepted as the unsurpassable

leaders in learning and civilization. What

made the arguments of the moderns convincing

then, in a way that they had not been earlier, was

undoubtedly the dazzling achievements of the

seventeenth-century Scientific Revolution. The

work of scientists such as Kepler (1571–1630),

Copernicus (1473–1543), Galileo (1564–1642), and

especially Newton (1643–1727), with their unlocking

of the basic mechanisms of the universe, indicated

that modern societies had the capacity to be

as enlightened and creative as any past society.

The philosophers Bacon (1561–1626) and Descartes

(1591–1650), with their call for a new method in

the understanding of nature and society, also expressed

a sense of the originality and novelty of

the times, together with a confidence that the

modern age had within it the seeds of unlimited


The idea of progress became a central feature of

most of the leading social philosophies of the

eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It was

accepted by most Enlightenment thinkers, even

as they criticized the conditions of their own societies

and times. Their faith in reason gave them

the confidence that they could discover and

remedy the outstanding abuses in their societies.

Nineteenth-century thinkers, such as Herbert

Spencer, Auguste Comte, and Karl Marx, similarly

looked forward to a future of freedom, equality,

and prosperity for all, even as they lambasted the

forces holding back progress in their own times.

The idea of progress appeared to find satisfyingly

scientific confirmation in the evolutionary theory,

in which a misunderstood Social Darwinism was

applied to the idea of the ascent of man from

savagery to civilization.

There was, from the time of the French Revolution

onwards, always a contrary current of

thought that radically questioned the idea of progress,

which in the case of some thinkers of a

religious persuasion, such as Joseph de Maistre

(1754–1821), was thought actually impious and

blasphemous. European Romanticism, with its

criticism of industrialism and materialism, and

its idealization of the Middle Ages, added its own

passionate and persuasive critique. Towards the

end of the nineteenth century, a fin-de-sie`cle

pessimism became a distinct and increasingly

powerful strand of thought among European

thinkers, such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Max Weber,

and Sigmund Freud. World War I and its aftermath,

with the unprecedented slaughter of men

followed by two decades of economic depression

and the rise of totalitarian dictatorships, buried

the idea of progress for most artists and intellectuals.

But the defeat of fascism in World War II,

and the strong economic recovery of the postwar

era, brought about a significant revival of the idea

of progress, though it has never regained the

central position that it held in previous centuries,

being subject now particularly to the criticisms of

ecologists. KRI SHAN KUMAR


– see profession(s).


– see Marxist Sociology.


Property implies ownership, to which may be attached

rights. In liberalism, property rights have a

distinctive and foundational role. Distinctive because

since John Locke (1632–1704) property

rights have been attached, not just to possession

of land and movable objects, but also to a human

being’s own person and the person’s capacities,

especially the capacity to labor. The notion of a

person’s proprietorship of their own capacities

has become foundational in liberal theory for

other rights of the person, including civil and

political rights. In Marxism, on the other hand,

property is not primarily a right but a relationship,

especially a production relationship. Thus

property is concerned with (but not reducible to)


Karl Marx holds that ownership or possession of

property is the principle of organization within

relations of production and distribution. Those

who possess property have direct access to the

means of consumption; those who do not must

offer their labor services to owners, who pay

them wages in order to bring their property into

productive use. In this exchange the reciprocity

between property owners and property-less workers

is asymmetrical, with the material benefits

being greater for owners and the opportunity

costs being greater for non-owners. This Marx

characterizes as exploitation. Marx adds that the

form of property yields to historical variation,

corresponding to historical stages of societal

progress property


development, namely primitive Communism,

Asiatic society, feudalism, and capitalism.

Sociological discussions of property typically

derive from either liberal or Marxist accounts.

Max Weber offers an account of property in his

Economy and Society (1922 [trans. 1968]) in terms of

appropriation and closed social relationships or

closure. The appropriation of economic opportunities,

from which others are excluded, is the basis

of an advantage, according to Weber, which may

take the form of a right. If this right is enduring

and can be transferred between individuals, then

the appropriated advantage is property. Weber

goes on to discuss how appropriation and property

have taken different forms under different

historical conditions and in different economic

settings. E´mile Durkheim argues in The Division of

Labor in Society (1893 [trans. 1960]) that inheritance

of property is responsible for a forced labor,

through which a natural distribution of talents

is distorted and anomie results. Apart from this,

Durkheim does not develop a theory of property,

even though his largely descriptive account of

property rights in Professional Ethics and Civic Morals

(1950 [trans. 1957]) is historically insightful.

Frank Parkin in Marxism and Class Theory: A Bourgeois

Critique (1979), following Marx, distinguishes

between personal property and property as capital.

Property as capital, he argues, following

Weber, is exclusionary closure. Out of these relations

arises class exploitation. The problem with

Parkin’s account is its exclusive focus on distributional

relations and competition for resources; it

considers only the production of life chances and

fails to address the question of the production

of means that are necessary to bring those life

chances into existence. Marx does this by treating

property as an economic relation, and Weber

and Durkheim by treating property as possessing

a legal dimension. Parkin treats property as an

essentially political facility. JACK BARBALET

Protestant Ethic Thesis

– see Max Weber.


This refers to the type of psychotherapy that was

founded by Sigmund Freud. In psychoanalysis the

therapist, or analyst, seeks to aid patients to recognize

their unconscious motivation. According to

psychoanalysts, all people have unconscious desires

and thus everyone would benefit from undergoing

psychoanalysis. The term psychoanalysis is

also sometimes used to describe the ideas of Freud

and his followers about the unconscious structure

of the mind. It is in this second sense, as a theory

of mind rather than as a psychotherapeutic practice,

that psychoanalysis has had a major effect on

sociological thinking.

Initially Freud began his career as a psychiatrist

using hypnosis to treat patients who displayed

neurotic symptoms. He found that the symptoms

often disappeared when patients could be induced

to recall forgotten memories under hypnosis.

Freud, with his colleague Josef Breuer (1842–

1925), hypothesized that the symptoms were related

to painful memories or shameful desires

that the patients had pushed, or repressed, from

conscious awareness. Although the experiences

and desires may have been repressed from awareness,

they continued to exert an unconscious influence.

If the patients could be encouraged to

recognize their unconscious thoughts, then,

according to Freud, it would be possible to treat

their neurotic symptoms. Thus, there could be a

talking cure.

Freud and Breuer published their results in Studies

on Hysteria (1893–5 [trans. 1953–74]). In this

book, Freud outlined the concept of repression,

which he later was to call the key concept of

psychoanalysis. Increasingly, Freud became convinced

that the most important repressed desires

were sexual ones originating in childhood.

Following his own “self-analysis,” Freud concluded

that all adults had unconscious sexual and aggressive

desires that had their roots in infantile desires.

Young boys, he suggested, desired their

mothers and harbored aggressive hatred towards

their fathers. These desires needed to be repressed.

Freud was to call this pattern of childish desire

“the Oedipus complex.”

In 1896, Freud first used the term psychoanalysis

to describe the practice by which the unconscious

could be brought into conscious awareness.

The analyst had to be trained to de-code dreams,

neurotic symptoms, and the stories told by the

person undergoing analysis. Freud set into place

professional structures for the training and recognition

of analysts. It was a condition that all

psychoanalysts had themselves to be analyzed by

an experienced analyst. In the first half of the

twentieth century, psychoanalysis became an

international movement with recognized associations

across the world.

At the root of psychoanalytic practice lay a

theory of the human mind. According to Freudian

theory, the mind was split between the conscious

self (ego) and the instinctual unconscious element

(id). The ego itself was split – it, too, had unconscious

parts. As the child begins to repress its own

Protestant Ethic Thesis psychoanalysis


childhood sexual feelings, so the ego becomes

further divided: the rational part of the ego becomes

split from a punitive sense of morality and

duty (the superego). Freud outlined these ideas

in a series of books such as The Interpretation of

Dreams (1900 [trans. 1991]), Three Essays on the Theory

of Sexuality (1905 [trans. 1982]), and Introductory

Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1917 [trans. 1973]).

Psychoanalytic theory, as developed by Freud,

contained a vision of the relations between the

individual and society. In later works such as

Group Psychology (1921 [trans. 1992]) and Civilization

and its Discontents (1930 [trans. 1992]); Freud argued

that social life demands the repression of the basic

human instincts of sexuality and aggression. This

is why children come to repress their childish

instincts. In repressing their instincts, they come

to identity with the opposite-sex parent. However,

the boy at the conclusion of the Oedipal period

adopts the punitive voice of the father as his own

superego: this is the origin of moral conscience. In

this way, repression ensures that children tame

their instincts and accept the social codes of society.

The result is that social life, especially modern

society, demands that humans become alienated

from their instinctual nature.

Many psychoanalysts have sought to reinterpret

basic Freudian ideas. This has led to a succession

of schisms within the psychoanalytic movement.

Although Freud was developing a highly original

psychology of the mind, his influence has been

greater amongst social scientists than amongst

academic psychologists, who have tended to view

his theories as being insufficiently grounded in

experimental evidence.

The theorists of the Frankfurt School were particularly

influenced by psychoanalytic ideas. Max

Horkheimer and Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno

argued that orthodox Marxist theory could not

explain the rise of fascism because fascist propaganda

appealed to irrational unconscious motives

rather than to rational economic interests. In

their work, and in that of Erich Fromm, who,

unlike most members of the Frankfurt School,

was a practicing psychoanalyst, lay the roots

of the theory of the authoritarian personality.

Fromm also criticized Freud for overemphasizing

sexual motives, and ignoring motives such as

the need for a secure identity to counteract the

alienation of modern capitalism.

Feminism has a great impact upon recent

understanding of psychoanalysis. Feminist social

theorists have emphasized how Freud’s theories

are marked by patriarchal assumptions and how

the practice of psychoanalysis has permitted

powerful male analysts to impose patriarchal interpretations

upon female patients. Feminists

have argued that Freud failed to provide a convincing

account of women’s psychic structure, claiming

that women’s experience does not match the

Oedipus complex. However, there is a division

between those feminists who entirely reject psychoanalysis

as irredeemably sexist and those, like

Juliet Mitchell, who believe that basic Freudian

ideas can be reformulated in non-sexist ways.

Feminist psychoanalysts, such as Mitchell, argue

that the young girl’s psychic structure and her

relationship with her mother may not be Oedipal,

but tensions and repressions are nevertheless


Of late, one of the most famous theorists has

been Jacques Lacan, the controversial French psychoanalyst

who saw the “mirror stage,” rather

than the Oedipus complex, as the decisive event

in childhood. Lacan’s ideas have been particularly

influential in cultural studies, especially in film

theory. Although Lacan claimed to be “returning

to Freud,” his obscure, evasive writings contrast

with the precision and clarity of Freud’s prose.


public administration

The development of independent public bureaucracies

was vital to the rise of the modern state.

Nonpartisan public servants carrying out directives

according to a set of rational rules and procedures

are ideals of the modern bureaucracy. For

Max Weber, the rise of such bureaucracies is a

defining feature of modernization itself. Public

administration is the science and professional

practice of civil service. In theory, the goals of

public administration are straightforward: efficiency

and effectiveness on the one hand, and

fairness and incorruptibility on the other. But

achieving these goals, in the face of social and

political pressures on civil servants, has proved

extremely difficult in practice.

While important vestiges of public administration

can be found in ancient and feudal societies,

most notably in the Chinese dynasties, the rise of

bureaucracies grounded in civil service rules took

hold in early modern Europe. This is where the

current concept of public administration began

to develop. Professional civil services have been

associated with the rise of capitalism and industrial

societies, as well as the transition from

monarchical and authoritarian proto-democratic

systems of governance. In particular, the rise of

market-based exchanges created the need for state

administrative apparatuses capable of enforcing

psychoanalysis public administration


contracts and imposing rules on newly emerging

markets. By the late nineteenth century, governments

throughout Europe and elsewhere had

adopted civil service reforms that increased

the independence of public bureaucracy and required

that appointments be made based on

demonstrated competence rather than patronage.

The establishment of public administration as a

professional field is a twentieth-century development.

Public administration today has its own

knowledge base, schools of public administration

and public policy to train practitioners, and

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