Vol. 12 No. 23 (2022): Upcoming - La finanza alla prova dell’emergenza sanitaria
Open Essays and Researches

The Role of Professional Competence in Welfare Services Development. A Contribution of Luhmann's System Theory

Maria Pia Castro
University of Catania
Published February 15, 2022
  • profession,
  • professionalismo,
  • systemic perspective,
  • welfare system,
  • professional competence
How to Cite
Castro, M. P. (2022). The Role of Professional Competence in Welfare Services Development. A Contribution of Luhmann’s System Theory. Cambio. Rivista Sulle Trasformazioni Sociali, 12(23). https://doi.org/10.36253/cambio-10491


Since some decades professionalism is profoundly changed and traditional approaches have now become insufficient to understand its developments, as mono-dimensional. During the 20th century many professions have been employed within organizational contexts, causing a bureaucratization and standardization of many professional activities. Organizations have become one of the main places in which professional practices take place and professionalism can no longer be considered a «third logic», different from market and bureaucracy (Freidson 2001). Pervasiveness of organizations in professional sphere has also led to the conceptualization of a new kind of «occupational professionalism» (Evetts 2006, 2011, 2014).

The paper proposes a systemic perspective to the professions analysis within the organizational contexts, according to which the professional competence plays a pivotal role. The study focuses on social field and particularly on local systems of measures against poverty, providing the findings of a case-study conducted in Italy. Professional competences assumes a key role, as their exercise is currently affecting the redefinition of contents and strategies of social interventions, in the delicate balance between the consolidated settings (locally developed in heterogeneous way) and the orientation towards the administrative re-centralization at national level, within a common community framework.


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