LMIP-HSRC Seminar Series: Studying professions in shifting occupational contexts: Exploring symbolic boundaries in mechatronics

Event date: 
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 -
12:30pm to 1:30pm

This seminar may be attended via video conference in Pretoria, Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal. Details as below: Cape Town : HSRC, 12th Floor, Plein Park Building (Opposite Revenue Office), Plein Street, Cape Town. Contact Jean Witten, Tel (021) 4668004, Fax (021) 461 0299, or [email protected]Durban :  First floor HSRC board room, 750 Francois Road, Ntuthuko Junction, Pods 5 and 6, Cato Manor, Contact Ridhwaan Khan, Tel (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786 or [email protected]Pretoria : HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811, e-mail: [email protected]


Dr. Angelique Wildschut, Human Sciences Research Council

About this seminar: 

The realities of current globalised work contexts require certain occupational groups to have a far broader knowledge, skill and dispositional range than was the case in the past. These changes challenge our notions of what kind of skills, knowledge bases, competencies and values are considered to be the preserve of professionals. Abbot’s (1988) assertion almost three decades earlier, that the boundaries between what is considered a profession or occupation are becoming ever more porous, might be considered even more true now.  his paper proposes the value of an approach employed in a South African study that aims to better understand the changing milieus and identities of artisanal occupations. The study considers boundary work and the use of boundary objects between artisanal occupations and related expert occupations as central to understanding current changes. It builds on the idea that the notion of profession is constructed in contradistinction to the notion of a lower-level occupation and so there is a particular value in trying to understand these relationally. Drawing on this conceptual approach, the paper argues that new debates in the world of work - such as the increasing precariousness of professions, the impact of managerialism on occupations, or even jurisdictional claims that arise because of such shifts - need to take into account lower-level occupations more robustly.