Democratic Professionalism

Democratic Professionalism: Citizen Participation and the Reconstruction of Professional Ethics, Identity, and Practice

ALBERT W. DZUR
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/j.ctt7v51b
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  • Book Info
    Democratic Professionalism
    Book Description:

    Bringing expert knowledge to bear in an open and deliberative way to help solve pressing social problems is a major concern today, when technocratic and bureaucratic decision making often occurs with little or no input from the general public. Albert Dzur proposes an approach he calls “democratic professionalism” to build bridges between specialists in domains like law, medicine, and journalism and the lay public in such a way as to enable and enhance broader public engagement with and deliberation about major social issues. Sparking a critical and constructive dialogue among social theories of the professions, professional ethics, and political theories of deliberative democracy, Dzur reveals interests, motivations, strengths, and vulnerabilities in conventional professional roles that provide guideposts for this new approach. He then applies it in examining three practical arenas in which experiments in collaboration and power-sharing between professionals and citizens have been undertaken: public journalism, restorative justice, and the bioethics movement. Finally, he draws lessons from these cases to refine this innovative theory and identify the kinds of challenges practitioners face in being both democratic and professional.

    eISBN: 978-0-271-05486-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. INTRODUCTION: THE ETHICS AND POLITICS OF PROFESSIONS
    (pp. 1-12)

    Three snapshots.

    As Adele Haber lay in a hospital bed staring at the ceiling, down the hall a team of doctors and ethicists were discussing whether she should live or die. The team, at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, is part of a program … that aims to resolve medical conflicts at the end of life.

    In the waiting room of the pulmonary care unit, where a small window air-conditioner struggled against the heat, members of the medical staff gathered that Tuesday afternoon to discuss Mrs. Haber’s case. The team included ethicists and staff members working with the patient....

  5. 1 THE MISSING AGENTS OF CONTEMPORARY DEMOCRATIC THOUGHT
    (pp. 13-42)

    This book shares a number of assumptions with contemporary political theory about the prospects of enhancing American democracy even in the face of depressing general trends in political behavior among elites and ordinary citizens. In particular, it favors institutions and practices, both political and social, that encourage, respect, and heed citizen participation and deliberation. Citizen participation and deliberation are at the center of contemporary political theory, where advocates of what has come to be called deliberative democracy make strong claims about the value of face-to-face, public deliberation. Indeed, there is surprising agreement across normally divisive intellectual fault lines on what,...

  6. 2 BEYOND SELF-INTEREST: THE APOLITICAL PICTURE OF PROFESSIONALS
    (pp. 43-78)

    What about professions, professional organizations, institutions in which professionals work, and professionals themselves may make them receptive to a role as facilitators of public deliberation? What about professional authority makes such a role inevitable? In this and the next two chapters I begin to develop answers to these questions through the work of theorists who have made significant contributions to the understanding of professionals’ social responsibilities and the relationship between professional work and the public culture of democracy. This theoretical work, which spans a number of disciplines, can be grouped into three broad perspectives, or what I call “models” of...

  7. 3 PROFESSIONALS VERSUS DEMOCRACY: THE RADICAL CRITIQUE OF TECHNOCRATS, DISABLING EXPERTS, AND TASK MONOPOLISTS
    (pp. 79-104)

    Though social trustee ideas are still prominent, a critical discourse emerged in the late 1960s, drawing attention to the unhealthy relations of political and not just commercial power maintained and encouraged by professionalism. These arguments focus on a dimension of professional action left undertheorized by both social trustee thinkers and their critics within contemporary social theory. What I call the “radical critique” holds that professions manipulate and dominate the public, preventing citizens from taking up their rightful place in coordinating social action. The radical critique is a second descriptive and normative model for understanding what it means to be a...

  8. 4 TASK SHARING FOR DEMOCRACY: THEMES FROM POLITICAL THEORY
    (pp. 105-134)

    The possibility that professionals can serve as facilitators in a more active and engaged democracy is the central focus of the model of democratic professionalism. Just as task monopolists take away civic competencies, task sharers can help citizens gain competence or, equally important, help citizens understand when and why to hand over a job with public purposes to those with professional training and experience. Reformers can open spaces for public contribution within previously remote structures—the journalists of Chapter 5 share some of the authority for determining the news by taking cues from their communities rather than officials, the health...

  9. 5 PUBLIC JOURNALISM
    (pp. 135-172)

    In this and the next two chapters, the theory of democratic professionalism is grounded in the practices of three reform movements within three different professions: the public journalism, restorative justice, and bioethics movements. Though in many ways success stories, this is not the reason they are considered here. Rather, they are three of the most prominent and most widespread examples of how professionals have changed their thinking about their professional roles to encompass the broader, more collaborative democratic professional identity. They are also three of the most theoretical, so to speak, in that the practitioners and interested outsiders have been...

  10. 6 RESTORATIVE JUSTICE
    (pp. 173-206)

    This chapter focuses on a second case of democratic professionalism in practice: restorative justice. Like public journalists, restorative justice advocates seek a different mode of professionalism that involves citizens as partners rather than consumers and contributes needed “associated intelligence,” as Dewey would put it, to the public culture of democracy. Also like public journalists, restorative justice advocates have had to confront practically the complexity, trade-off issues, and ambiguities about the roles of both practitioner and layperson under the democratic professional model.

    Beginning with a brief discussion of the history and practice of restorative justice, this chapter reveals the main motivations...

  11. 7 BIOETHICS
    (pp. 207-244)

    The last two decades have seen a rapid growth in the number and status of ethics consultants, or bioethicists, within the medical profession. Typically unlicensed in medicine, ethics consultants are laypeople who help address and resolve moral uncertainties and value conflicts related to patient care, professional relationships, institutional standards, and organizational purposes. In the course of one generation, they have become the moral ombudsmen of the medical profession.

    As a case of democratic professionalism, the bioethics movement in medicine is instructive about the possibilities and potential pitfalls of the ideal in practice. On the one hand, it has firmly established...

  12. 8 CONTEXT AND CONSEQUENCES: THE DUTIES OF DEMOCRATIC PROFESSIONALS
    (pp. 245-266)

    Cases of democratic professionalism in practice demonstrate that this is a complex and demanding ideal. Challenges exist in managing resources, especially the time taken up by professionals in facilitating lay participation and genuine, not token, public engagement. Pressures are placed on traditionally trained professionals to adapt to new ways of working that do not fit easily into standard judgments of what good work looks like. There are ongoing issues of how to incorporate task sharing and lay participation into complex organizations and how to understand the status of these new features of professionalism. Most important, perhaps, are the difficulties involved...

  13. CONCLUSION: THE UNIVERSITY’S ROLE IN THE DEMOCRATIZATION OF PROFESSIONAL ETHICS
    (pp. 267-274)

    Neophytes currently undergoing professional training lack instruction in the democratic consequences of the domains they will enter—the hospitals and clinics, newspapers and news studios, courtrooms and corrections facilities. At a time when ethics scandals in accounting, journalism, and other professions have drawn fresh attention to the need to rethink ethics pedagogy in professional schools, opportunities exist to incorporate the teaching of explicitly democratic duties to foster lay participation and task sharing into ethics seminars and workshops and to creatively awaken students’ attentiveness to the prudential and normative reasons that support this new vision of professional integrity. This book supports...

  14. INDEX
    (pp. 275-282)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 283-283)