What Are the Issues of Focusing on Irreducible Uncertainties in Professional Work? A Historical Outline of “Prudential Professionalism”
This article brings into view “prudential professionalism”, a particular type of professionalism needed in situations of irreducible uncertainties, presents the philosophical concept of prudentiality on which this is based, and seeks to clarify both the theoretical and practical issues associated with this professionalism. A discussion with Abbott’s book, The System of Professions, is used to argue that revisiting the theme of professionalism is needed. Then a historical outline of prudential professionalism brings some empirical material to support the theoretical arguments. This historical outline sheds new light on the current difficulties of professionals faced by demands from new public management they cannot meet and by the values of organisational professionalism. Finally, a method to rethink the social conditions of professional work is proposed.