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The importance and influence of professions in public life has grown increasingly over the twentieth century but the question of whether they subordinate their own self-interests to the public interest has yet to be adequately researched within a major sociological perspective. In Professions and the Public Interest Mike Saks develops a theoretical and methodological framework for assessing professional groups in Western society. The empirical applicability of this framework is illustrated with reference to health care, focusing particularly on a novel case study of the response of the medical profession to acupuncture in nineteenth and twentieth century Britain. Does the predominant climate of medical rejection of acupuncture, and many complementary forms of medicine, run counter to the public interest? Has this rejection been heavily influenced by professional self-interest? By considering the implications of this case study for the accountability of the medical profession Mike Saks makes broader recommendations about the direction of research into the relationship between the public and professions in this academically and politically important subject.
Professions and the Public Interest will be of great interest to a wide audience including all lecturers and students of social policy, sociology, and medical sociology and well as to professional groups and their members. Mike Saks is Head of the School of Health and Life Sciences, De Montfort University, Leicester. Part I: Sociology, Professions and the Public Interest: A Research Framework 1. The Sociology of professions and the professional altruism ideal: a critical review 2. The development of a via