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Occupational closure

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Title: Occupational closure  
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Subject: Occupational sexism, Occupational segregation, Occupational inequality, Occupational therapist, List of professions
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Occupational closure

Occupational closure is the sociological term given to the process whereby a trade or occupation transforms itself into a true profession by closing off entry to the profession to all but those suitably qualified. The profession then becomes closed to entry from outsiders, amateurs and the unqualified. This is also sometimes called "professional demarcation."[1] This can be achieved by licensure, through barring entry to all except those who have passed certain entrance examinations and grades of training, or by allowing entry only to those who have gained membership of a specific professional body. In most professions all three methods are in regular use. What this means in practical terms, is that an architect or physician, for example, will firstly be a university graduate in their main subject, second, will have passed entrance examinations to join a recognised professional body and thirdly, will also be licensed to practise medicine or architecture, usually also obtained through sitting examinations. Therefore, such professions are open only to those who satisfy these requirements and are closed to everyone else. It is thus illegal for any other person to practise medicine or to pose as an architect.

The origin of this process is said to have been with guilds during the Middle Ages, when 'professionals' fought for exclusive rights to practice their trades as journeymen, and to engage unpaid apprentices.

See also


  1. ^ Rhona Macdonald (2004). "The Hospital at Night".   / doi:10.1136/bmj.328.7431.s19

Further reading

  • Cavanagh S.A.L. (March 2003). "The Gender of Professionalism and Occupational Closure: the management of tenure-related disputes by the 'Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario' 1918-1949". Gender and Education 15 (1): 39–57(19).  
  • Kim A. Weeden (2001). "Why Do Some Occupations Pay More than Others? Social Closure and Earnings Inequality in the United States". American Journal of Sociology 108: 55–101.   / doi:10.1086/344121
  • Anne Witz (November 1990). "Patriarchy and Professions: The Gendered Politics of Occupational Closure". Sociology 24 (4): 675–690.  / doi:10.1177/0038038590024004007
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