This book engages with sociological debates about the social sources of professional power and with feminist debates about how gender segregation in employment is generated and sustained. The author argues that the gender blindness of prevailing neo-Marxist and neo-Weberian approaches to the study of professions has frustrated the development of an analysis of the relation between gender and professional projects. It is necessary to gender the agents of professional projects and to historically anchor occupational professionalism within the structural parameters of nineteenth century patriarchal capitalism. The author elaborates a model of occupational closure which concentrates in particular on the gendered dimensions of closure. It distinguishes between exclusionary, demaractionary, inclusionary and dual closure strategies of occupational closure. The explanatory power of the model is tested through an analysis of the professional projects and inter-professional rivalries of medical men, midwives, nurses and radiographers in the emerging medical division of labour in the latter half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Impressive, shrewd and cogent, the book binds together sociology and feminist concepts in highly original and challenging ways. It will be of interest to students of women's studies, the sociology of work and the sociology of health and medicine.