Perspectives on Contemporary Professional Work
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Perspectives on Contemporary Professional Work

Challenges and Experiences

Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Donald Hislop and Christine Coupland

How is the world of professions and professional work changing? This book offers both an overview of current debates surrounding the nature of professional work, and the implications for change brought about by the managerialist agenda. The relationships professionals have with their organizations are variable, indeterminate and uncertain, and there is still debate over the ways in which these should be characterized and theorized. The contributors discuss these implications with topics including hybrid organizations and hybrid professionalism; the changing nature of professional and managerial work; profession and identity; and the emergence of HRM as a new managerial profession.
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Chapter 16: Professionalization, projectification and pressurization: insights from construction project management

Daniel Sage


Professional workers are becoming ever more time-pressurized, from the temporal fragmentation of careers (Arthur and Rousseau, 1996) to work–life imbalances (Greenhaus et al., 2003), not least those initiated by new technology and mobile work (Hislop, 2008) as well as home working (Wapshott and Mallett, 2012). Professional working rhythms appear increasingly intensified, dislocated and fragmented. However, research also suggests that professional, highly skilled workers are better equipped than less-skilled employees to challenge some of the negative consequences of temporally pressurized workplaces (Fenton and Dermott, 2006), albeit if only for their own professional social class (Kim, 2013). Thus, in other words, professionalization still appears to function as a brake, at least for some, on the temporal pressures of corporatized capitalist life (Deetz, 1992). The notion that professional associations can serve as a remedy for social fragmentation emerged with the rise of industrial capitalist society. Writing in 1902 in the preface to the second edition of The Division of Labour in Society, Durkheim (1933: 28) suggests that occupational associations can, unlike the state, operate ‘near enough to the individuals to attract them strongly in their sphere of action and drag them, in this way, into the general torrent of social life’. Recently, professionalization has become regarded as an antidote by some to the excesses of neoliberal global capitalism: ‘Professionals are seen as problematic for neoliberals as their relative autonomy provides problems of control’ (Broadbent et al., 1997: 6). Debates around the relationship between professionalization and the deleterious effects of fast, global capitalism are well established and ongoing (Muzio et al., 2011; Larson, 1977).

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