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Democratic Professionalism

Citizen Participation and the Reconstruction of Professional Ethics, Identity, and Practice

Albert W. Dzur

Publication Year: 2008

Bringing expert knowledge to bear in an open and deliberative way to help solve pressing social problems is a major concern today, when technocratic and bureaucratic decision making often occurs with little or no input from the general public. Albert Dzur proposes an approach he calls “democratic professionalism” to build bridges between specialists in domains like law, medicine, and journalism and the lay public in such a way as to enable and enhance broader public engagement with and deliberation about major social issues. Sparking a critical and constructive dialogue among social theories of the professions, professional ethics, and political theories of deliberative democracy, Dzur reveals interests, motivations, strengths, and vulnerabilities in conventional professional roles that provide guideposts for this new approach. He then applies it in examining three practical arenas in which experiments in collaboration and power-sharing between professionals and citizens have been undertaken: public journalism, restorative justice, and the bioethics movement. Finally, he draws lessons from these cases to refine this innovative theory and identify the kinds of challenges practitioners face in being both democratic and professional.

Published by: Penn State University Press


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pp. v

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pp. vi

I was fortunate to begin and end this work in residence at intellectually stimulating interdisciplinary environments. The program in Social Theory at the University of Kentucky allowed me a postdoctoral year to set the course to explore democratic professionalism, and the Institute for the Study of Culture and Society at Bowling Green State University provided an unencumbered semester to ...

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Introduction: The Ethics and Politics of Professions

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pp. 1-12

All across the country, similar efforts by reform-minded professionals are bridging gaps between the lay public and key social institutions traditionally dominated by professional—hospitals and clinics, newspapers and broadcast studios, courtrooms and corrections facilities. Why have doctors, nurses, and hospital and clinic administrators carved out ...

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1. The Missing Agents of Contemporary Democratic Thought

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pp. 13-42

This book shares a number of assumptions with contemporary political theory about the prospects of enhancing American democracy even in the face of depressing general trends in political behavior among elites and ordinary citizens. In particular, it favors institutions and practices, both political and social, that encourage, respect, and heed citizen participation and deliberation. ...

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2. Beyond Self-Interest: The Apolitical Picture of Professionals

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pp. 43-78

What about professions, professional organizations, institutions in which professionals work, and professionals themselves may make them receptive to a role as facilitators of public deliberation? What about professional authority makes such a role inevitable? In this and the next two chapters I begin to develop answers to these questions through the work of theorists who have made ...

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3. Professionals versus Democracy: The Radical Critique of Technocrats, Disabling Experts, and Task Monopolists

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pp. 79-104

Though social trustee ideas are still prominent, a critical discourse emerged in the late 1960s, drawing attention to the unhealthy relations of political and not just commercial power maintained and encouraged by professionalism. These arguments focus on a dimension of professional action left undertheorized by both social trustee thinkers and their critics within contemporary social theory. ...

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4. Task Sharing for Democracy: Themes from Political Theory

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pp. 105-134

The possibility that professionals can serve as facilitators in a more active and engaged democracy is the central focus of the model of democratic professionalism. Just as task monopolists take away civic competencies, task sharers can help citizens gain competence or, equally important, help citizens understand when and why to hand over a job with public purposes to those with ...

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5. Public Journalism

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pp. 135-172

In this and the next two chapters, the theory of democratic professionalism is grounded in the practices of three reform movements within three different professions: the public journalism, restorative justice, and bioethics movements. Though in many ways success stories, this is not the reason they are considered here. Rather, they are three of the most prominent and most widespread ...

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6. Restorative Justice

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pp. 173-206

This chapter focuses on a second case of democratic professionalism in practice: restorative justice. Like public journalists, restorative justice advocates seek a different mode of professionalism that involves citizens as partners rather than consumers and contributes needed "associated intelligence," as Dewey would put it, to the public culture of democracy. Also like public journalists, ...

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7. Bioethics

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pp. 207-244

The last two decades have seen a rapid growth in the number and status of ethics consultants, or bioethicists, within the medical profession. Typically unlicensed in medicine, ethics consultants are laypeople who help address and resolve moral uncertainties and value conflicts related to patient care, professional relationships, institutional standards, and organizational purposes. In the course of one ...

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8. Context and Consequences: The Duties of Democratic Professionals

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pp. 245-266

Cases of democratic professionalism in practice demonstrate that this is a complex and demanding ideal. Challenges exist in managing resources, especially the time taken up by professionals in facilitating lay participation and genuine, not token, public engagement. Pressures are placed on traditionally trained professionals to adapt to new ways of working that do not fit easily into standard ...

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Conclusion: The University's Role in the Democratization of Professional Ethics

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pp. 267-274

Neophytes currently undergoing professional training lack instruction in the democratic consequences of the domains they will enter—the hospitals and clinics, newspapers and news studios, courtrooms and corrections facilities. At a time when ethics scandals in accounting, journalism, and other professions have drawn fresh attention to the need to rethink ethics pedagogy in professional ...


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pp. 275-281

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780271053165
E-ISBN-10: 027105316X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271033334
Print-ISBN-10: 0271033339

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 5 table
Publication Year: 2008