Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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core definition

Professionalisation is the process of turning an activity into the province of practitioners who regulate or otherwise control the exercise of the activity.

explanatory context

Typically, occupations such as medical doctor, nurse, architect, solicitor, lawyer, architect, engineer are established as controlled professions. In some countries there are many more designated profesions.

Professionalisation usually involves specifying norms of conduct, ethical principles and qualifications for entry to the profession.

Often, professionalisation goes hand in hand with the ascription of the occupation as a socio-economic high-status occupation (it becomes one of the 'professions' such as teaching, medicine or accounting, etc.) although this is not always the case as in the professionalisation of association football (where fame and wealth at the top level is not the same as status).

Academic subjects have become professionalised via their incorporation into the higher education sphere. Research in general, and social research in particular, have been professionalised by gradually moving away from amateurs and philanthropists and becoming institutionalised within higher educational or governmental auspices.

analytical review

Zhou and Zou (2009, p. 58) asks what is supervisor professionalization?:

The supervisor professionalization is that the supervisors of the company is composed by professional practicing personnel, and the supervision institution and supervision personnel should accept the operation lead of the corresponding profession organization and follow the constitutions and rules of the profession organization. That is to say, the supervisor professionalization should turn the supervisors’ work into their occupation, and supervisors have to acquire the professional practicing certificate firstly and be the professional supervisors. One of premises of the professionalization is to establish corresponding profession organization (such as the registered supervisors association). Its aim is to make the supervision institution and supervisors’ status more independent, and make the supervisor’s work more professional, which are also the standards of the supervisor professionalization.

Discussing agricultural nature conservation and landscape management, notes of a meeting at the University of Tilburg (2005) states:

Professionalization means that there is sufficient knowledge and skills and that the preconditions are met for the proper execution of nature conservation and landscape management.

associated issues


related areas

See also



University of Tilburg, 2005, ‘The Professionalization of Agricultural Nature Conservation Associations’, Workshop held on Monday, 31 October 2005, University of Tilburg, available at, accessed 28 March 2013, page not available 24 December 2016.

Zhou, X. and Zou, Y., 2009, 'Study on the Necessity and Feasibility of Supervisor Professionalization', International Business Research 2(2) pp. 57–61

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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