Norwegian version

Expertise, Ethics, and Public Policy

This research group explores the relationship between professions and governance. The aim is to combine the knowledge gained from empirical research with theoretical and normative study findings.

The group belongs to the Centre for the Study of Professions (SPS). 

We have three main areas of focus:

Head of research group

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  • Members

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  • More about the research

    Professions as normative arrangements

    Professions are commonly referred to as occupational groups that perform autonomously and are governed by a relatively exclusive form of knowledge and a code of ethics.

    Some questions that surround professions as normative arrangements include the following:

    • What are the bases for successful attempts at professionalisation, and what characterises projects of professionalisation in new areas of knowledge?
    • To what extent is professional activity self-governed (i.e., regulated through internal epistemic and ethical norms)?
    • What conflicts exist between professional governance and other types of governance (i.e., use of the market mechanism or bureaucratic control), and how do such conflicts unfold?
    • What are the ethical dilemmas within different professional enterprises, and how does the development towards a pluralistic and multicultural social sphere affect professions?

    Professions and societal governance

    Formal professional status means a public regulation of the market for certain kinds of services.

    Some questions that surround professions and societal governance include the following:

    • What are the effects of professional closure in different occupational fields?
    • What are the merits and demerits of a trust-based professional model for delivering public services compared with models that use command and control, that rely upon voice (user participation) or that depend upon user choice?
    • What has been the role of professions in policymaking in different areas, and what role do they play in different arenas today?
    • Do professions colonise people’s life-world and force civil society back? Or, do they contribute to the maintenance of solidarity in anonymous mass societies?

    Professions and implementation of public policies

    As street-level bureaucrats and gatekeepers, professionals have extensive discretionary powers. Discretion can be seen as a precondition for the accommodation of services to individual needs. At the same time, it raises serious issues concerning predictability, fair treatment and democratic control of the public welfare administration.

    Some questions surrounding professions and the implementation of public policies include the following:

    • How do professionals make decisions?
    • How do professionals conclude what ought to be done in individual cases?
  • Projects