Organization and Distinction of Profession and Democracy

Does the organization and distinction of the professions encourage or discourage democracy?

The organization and distinction of professions to some extend encourages democracy. This is because professions give individuals an upper hand and the facts to champion for their rights as well as the social rights in the public domain. Professions and democracy have a relationship and in particular when people demand for autonomy and self governance within the democratic framework.

The relationship between professions and democracy is poorly understood in public discourse which is dominated by populist attacks and apologetic defenses (Palonen, Pulkkinen and Rosales 279). Also it is worth to note that the theory of modern democracy might start right form looking at the mutual drift between citizens and politicians. In this context Palonen, Pulkkinen and Rosales says that a critical theory of democracy would have to acknowledge on one hand of the democratic virtue of political professionalization. Most of the professions tend to disagree with the idea of democratic self government which can be upheld under present conditions. It is also possible to note that the vices of professions endanger the very essence of democracy (Palonen, Pulkkinen and Rosales 278).

In definition, profession is the relationship between a guild and an esoteric body of knowledge which entails authority and legitimacy (Curren and Randall 176). Professions compete with democracy in that the self regulation and autonomy of professionals diminishes legislative and administrative control over the service professionals provide. Curren and Randall commented that professions claim to authority over their work is mostly justified by expertise and therefore values other than expertise are more central to democracy (176). Democratic and professional forms of authority can be mixed in institutions and therefore in our societies such mixtures are also commonly used and applied (Curren and Randall 176).

Curren and Randall found out that “in a democracy, professions will be legitimated by democratic bodies and ultimately accountable to them” (176). Besides this, they also said that such autonomy and self governance must be within a democratic framework. The principles that justify democratic authority and professions are different and competitive (Curren and Randall, 176). Another important aspect is that professions control their work hence what they should not be controlled democratically. 

The USAID and other providers of DG assistance are guided in achieving their goals by a well defined theory of democratic development that could identify where a recipient country stood on feasible trajectories towards stable democracy (Committee on Evaluation of USAID Democracy Assistance Programs 23). Professionals continue to debate exactly how to define democracy in terms of what pathways lead most reliably to full liberal democracy, what the necessary conditions are to achieve and stabilize democracies.

Pardo and Schwartz say that “due to professionalism democracy has lost in quality and governments find it more difficult to govern, to reach agreements with the increasing number of the ever-more powerful interest groups” (22). From this it is possible to assert that this has made it difficult to govern in a coherent way for the common well being and the community as a whole (Pardo and Schwartz 22). They also said that if we relate the impact of professions on democracy then the importance of the attractiveness of political candidates combined with the ill informed voters, then actual power that pressure groups exert in internal democracy within political parties may have a tremendous impact.

The book Public choice and the challenges of democracy says that “the latest generations are growing up in an atmosphere in which civic values and virtues are some how weaker than in previous times” (24). Professions have changed values such as responsibility, work and effort. This enables people to obtain almost everything and thus as a result the younger generations show little interest in democracy. Pardo and Schwartz indicated that professionalism is already having an impact on social and political life. This means that if this people retain their present mentality, concerns values attitudes and behavior they may thus become a danger to democracy.

Fischer says that nothing would seem to come closer to the kind of professional reorientation in the early decades of the twentieth century that is the professional as facilitator of public learning and democratic deliberation (43). Some people see the need to democratize the professions themselves. Democracy and Expertise: Reorienting Policy Inquiry indicated that “when we speak of a new democratic role for the professions in a democratic society we should understand the relationship that exists between professionalism and democracy” (44). Another important fact that should be noted is if or not professionals are helping citizens participate in the decision that affect their lives.

The book Democracy and Expertise: Reorienting Policy Inquiry says that “if professions are to contribute more directly to democratic participation, public deliberation in particular, this would involve one aspect of what the professions do” (44). They also indicated that professions provide a wide range of services that have little to do with democracy, from diagnosing the democracy status, assessing the durability of physical infrastructure and advising clients in personal matters and the like. Fischer on the other hand says that while democratization of the professions can look attractive from the perspective of participatory democratic theory it tends to reshape professional activities in terms of a theory rather than being removed from traditional understandings of professional functions and activities (44).

Studies show that many professional tasks do not lend themselves to democratic practices and therefore the concept of civic professionalism in this case looks more appropriate (Fischer 45). Fischer also indicated that a strong democracy would not require participatory discussion of every issue but instead it should include open deliberation about which decisions should firstly be dealt with democratically which need professions advice (45). In some cases it has been noted that problem solving might be collaborative but not altogether democratic. Therefore, Democracy and Expertise: Reorienting Policy Inquiry says that “recognizing these aspects of problem solving would seem to increase the chances that professionals might take an interest in more democratic approaches to dealing with their respective problems” (45). 

Democratic deliberation is considered to be one of the most important practices involved in a more general task of reconstructing the public responsibilities of the professions. This would include such things as assisting the poor with health care, financial assistance and legal services (Fischer 45). Fischer continues to indicate that in the public domain client oriented services would involve deliberative consultations but not democratic per se. Fischer thus says that these services are likely o restricted to professional practices that directly affect the public generally ad matters affecting public policy (45).  

Manent established that democracy is an organization of separations because it is considered as the most distinctive trait (12). According to Manent democracy puts distinctions and even separations where other regimes do not put or did not put any (12). The book A world beyond politics?: a defense of the nation-state says that “democracy confirms and multiplies the separations produced by the development of civilization hence it is evident that the more a regime and a society are democratic, the more they produce professions, distinctions and separations that present clear advantages over non-democratic and less democratic regimes” (12). For example Manent says that the superiority or at least the superior vitality of American democracy is considered to have been derived in good part from its inexhaustible inventiveness kin in the matter of new distinctions (12).

New distinctions which may encompass new professions or positions are aimed at acknowledging differences perceived within positions that in the past were considered indivisible (Manent 12). The current trend which has been observed is that professionalization multiplies professions thus creating distinction between them and also separating them from one another. The book A world beyond politics?: a defense of the nation-state thus says that if the movement of distinction o separation is a fundamental aspect of  modern democracy, then one  can distinguish several broad categories of separation such as separation of professions, powers, civil society and the state. 

Palonen, Pulkkinen and Rosales indicated that in most developed countries citizens still support democracy as a political system but the majorities are discontent with its practice and personnel (278). They indicated that the professional politician is identified as the character that is mainly responsible for the shortcoming of modern democracy. Palonen, Pulkkinen and Rosales also say that politics as a profession becomes even less popular than ever before hence political professionalism is seen as justified by history even though it is considered as a product of democracy (278). In their further studies Palonen, Pulkkinen and Rosales found out that professional politicians may repeatedly want to maintain their position in a situation where electoral loss could mean de-professionalization (278).

The Ashgate research companion to the politics of democratization in Europe: concepts and histories indicated that “professional politicians are not only necessary in order to keep democratic institutions open to people from different social backgrounds but they also tend to stabilize democracy in which they have a common stake” (279). We can also suggest that if modern democracy needs professional politicians but instead they tend to subvert modern democracy this means that they have a little systematic problem. The reconciliation of professions and democracy is a continuous never ending task and does not allow for quick fix (279).

Besides this arguments Kelly argues that “it is role of the professions in a democratic society to ensure that democratic choices are as fully informed as they can be and that they are made with a full awareness of their theoretical, practical and also ideological implications” (143). The book Education and democracy: principles and practices says that “professions have a responsibility for ensuring that policies are made on the basis of the fullest possible information and equally importantly to ensure that every citizen has access to that information in order to be able to evaluate those policies” (143). As a result an effective democracy requires an informed and emancipated citizenry.

The part played by professions is to support the citizenry is their resistance to the efforts of those who would seek to deny them this access to further understanding in order to be able to impose their authority to them (Kelly 143). On this basis education of every profession should include adequate preparation for this big role.  This is because of the motivation that in democratic context they should be expected to advice society at whatever level on matters where policies must be developed or evaluated. The book Education and democracy: principles and practices continues to say that “professions should go a step further to assist in the process of ensuring that these policies are sound and also provide an assurance that such policies are genuinely the result of due democratic processes and not of the decisions and the ideology of a few foisted on to the rest” (143).

In conclusion, Kelly (143) says that failure to make appropriate use of professions expertise is another feature of current social policies which adds to the general picture of democracy in decline. As a result professions should be looked from different perspectives and therefore not just high skilled people who carry out social policy and organizational objectives but people who have significance in determining the level of democracy in a given phenomenon. Another important observation from the above research is that professions should not be looked at as normal inhabitants in a certain country and therefore they should have a say over the terms and substance of their work in a democratic state. The influence of professions is felt in the perspectives of encouraging democracy but from the above research it depends on the field in which and individual is experienced. In this case we can suggest that professions in policy formulation encourage democracy to a large extend than other professions.  

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