Increasing pressures on teachers, lawyers and other professionals is leading to stress, emotional strain and in some cases breakdown, according to a report published today by the think-tank Demos. Production Values: Futures for professionalism argues that professionalism faces a crisis of legitimacy, caused by declining deference towards professional judgement and increasing expectations on a range of workers to deliver service to a 'professional' standard.
“For more and more of us, the emotional labour we associate with 'professionals' is becoming part of our working life,” says John Craig of Demos. “But this has not been matched by a spread of professional rights and support. Today's jobs leave us free to be with our families in body, but not in spirit. The work-life balance we must learn to strike is not about time, but energy.”
Demos argues that our increasing demands as consumers and service users is undermining the legitimacy of professionals. It suggests that employers and government need to do more to provide professionals with emotional support.
“As professionals we want autonomy and status, but as consumers we expect slavish public servants, available 24/7,” says John Craig. "If we want to tackle pressing issues like work-life balance, we need to find ways in which professionals and citizens can work together to solve common problems.”
Production Values includes essays from commentators, academics, and professionals on the challenges facing specific professions; professional innovation; and the future of professionalism. Contributions include:
- Baroness Estelle Morris on the challenges facing children's professionals.
- Sir Michael Bichard, former Permanent Secretary at the Department for Employment and Education, on the changing nature of professionalism in the public sector.
- Demos Associate Charles Leadbeater on post-industrial public services.
- Richard Reeves and John Knell on 'good work' and the new demands on professionals.
The collection has been produced in partnership with Careers Scotland.
“This is an important piece of research for Careers Scotland”, says Gordon McDougall, head of career planning at Careers Scotland. “Since our creation in 2002, we have introduced new ways of working which have impacted on the work of our staff and for those who have a customer facing role this has changed the nature of the relationship they have with individuals.”
“The research will help us to better understand the impact of these changes on the professional role of staff and how it has enabled them to develop a more autonomous approach. It will also enable us to understand how changes in Careers Scotland are reflected in other organisations across the public and private sectors.”
Notes to editors
- Production Values: Futures for professionalism, edited by John Craig, is published by Demos on 22nd June 2006. Copies can be downloaded from /publications/productionvalues or ordered from Central Books on 020 8986 5488.
- Production Values will be launched at an event on Thursday 22nd June, 17:00-20:00. The event will be held at Demos, Third Floor, Magadalen House, 136 Tooley Street, London SE1 2TU. To register for the event email firstname.lastname@example.org
- John Craig is a senior researcher at Demos.
- Demos is the think tank for everyday democracy. It has a long-running interest in the work and organisational culture. This publication is part of a wider programme of work on the future of professionalism.