Chapter 7: Occupational Regulation
7. Occupational regulation INTRODUCTION Occupational regulation can be traced to the Code of Hammurabi of ancient Babylon, and was extensive in ancient Rome and, via the guilds, through the Middle Ages. Occupations have always been subject to regulation, with the state role varying from minimal to almost complete. The picture is complicated because regulation takes several forms and because there are layers of internal and external regulation. In many cases an occupation has used the state to strengthen self-regulation, so the appearance of the state role may be deceptive. However, we may start by contrasting self-regulation with state regulation. Some occupations have formed associations to ‘self-regulate’ their activities; others have persuaded the state to regulate for their benefit. Usually, those that have turned the regulatory system to their advantage have been small and specialized. With any system, tension exists between practitioner and consumer interests, each pressing governments to regulate in their favour. A third party is the public interest, commonly though incorrectly equated with the consumer interest. In a transformation period, the tendency has been to regulate in favour of market forces, except in the case of professions in the vanguard of the new production system. Although state regulation has been ostensibly concerned with consumer protection whereas self-regulation has been concerned with protection of those inside an occupation, this can be over-stressed. In the debate over labour flexibility little attention has been given to the impact of occupational regulation. Yet barriers to entry to occupations and the right to practise,...
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