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ERIC Number: EJ932987
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 6
ISSN: ISSN-1360-080X
Reply to "Professionals, Oaths and Flashbacks in the University" by Peodair Leihy
Sharrock, Geoff
Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, v33 n4 p321-323 2011
This article presents the author's reply to Peodair Leihy's critique of his paper, "Two Hippocratic oaths for higher education," published in this "Journal" (Sharrock, 2010). In this article, the author focuses on several points of disagreement. The selling of wares is not a defining feature of professional work: many doctors and lawyers, for example, work in public or private institutions as salaried staff. Nor is high social status and income, which is rather an effect of the success certain professional groups have had in both demonstrating their social contribution, and limiting the number of entrants to their field of practice--two things academia struggles to do. In practice, many occupations (school teaching is one) routinely blur the distinctions between vocationalism and professionalism. Turning to the critique's main argument, whether university scholars consider their work a vocation or a profession, it still seems clear that they do subscribe, formally or informally, to certain "rules of the game" that are widely accepted across scholarly communities, disciplines and institutions. The author's purpose in naming these in the form of a "Hippocratic oath" is not to impose a new set of regulations on scholars, but to inform and articulate a much less certain and less widely accepted set of "rules of the game" for university managers; and in doing so, to highlight their different logics, and thus clarify some of the inevitable tensions between these two areas of responsibility. Casting the two as "oaths" was more for heuristic than legislative purposes. Turning to the critique's conclusion, the author thinks the claim that academics in general will find the idea of a code or oath for scholars "incendiary" is at best an overstatement. Those scholars who have proposed such codes obviously do not see it this way; and in recent years there are places where codes have been introduced for students, with the support of the scholars who oversee their education. The author contends that like managers, scholars do not become exemplary--or exempt--simply by claiming that their work is complex, their hearts are pure, and their contributions rely substantially on the exercise of individual judgements. Since no professional, vocational or institutional community is immune from the risks posed by competing values and priorities, conflicts of interest, or occasional acts of misconduct among its members, each group must find a way to define and regulate its own practices, while preserving the legitimate aims, values and interests of the constituencies involved.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A