Friday, March 24, 2006

Professions, Antifessions

Turns out that originally...
one's "profession" was the occupation one declared to a tax collector under oath.
(Go, follow the link, it's an interesting article. I'll be here when you get back.)

Once the "medical profession" was defined in terms of the Hippocratic oath, "profession" came gradually to refer to an occupation whose members had special obligations to those they served. Thus the "professions" were - I suppose they still are, technically, since it's in the dictionary and all - such things as doctor, lawyer, and basketball player.

Oh, wait, there are more. Let's just take a look at the first interesting sample I came across, shall we? Yes, let's. (Go do your own research, if you don't like my methods.) The New York State Education Department has an "Office of the Professions" that regulates 47 professions... and, let's see, they seem to be mainly in the field of health: useful fields such as audiology, midwifery, veterinary medicine, interior design... hmm.

(Leaving aside obvious comments about the dubious usefulness of licensing interior designers, why are architects on the list? And where are the lawyers, you might ask? Why, they have their own department, of course: because they're so important... or maybe just because there are so damned many of them... or because they're not willing to be regulated by anybody but themselves.)

So is a "profession" then, properly speaking, just any job that requires one to be licensed and regulated? Or is there such a thing as "properly speaking" in this case?

I rather hope there isn't - namely because I've just found a list of professions I can really get behind.


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