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date: 02 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews the development of theoretical approaches to our understanding of Professional Service Firms (PSFS). It does so by drawing a parallel with the broader development of the sociology of the professions. Indeed, the authors argue how the study of professional service firms, like the study of professional occupations before it, is following a trajectory from concerns with structure and function to questions of power and privilege and finally to issues of process and practice. The chapter concludes with a final section that raises questions about prior theories of professions, which have assumed that professions are appropriate objects of theorization in their own right. The authors argue, instead, for an institutional/ecological approach to studying professions, which analyzes professions as but one type of institution struggling for survival in an ecology of other, related, institutional forms.

Keywords: sociology of professions, institutional theory, ecological approach, professional service firms, professions, professional occupations

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