Restratification, hybridity and professional elites: questions of power, identity and relational contingency at the points of 'professional-organisational intersection’

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Colleges, School and Institutes


This paper re‐visits and re‐appraises Freidson's restratification thesis. His thesis was proposed in the mid‐1980s to counter the idea of de‐professionalisation, suggesting professional elites can retain collective interests in a more bureaucratic and marketised workplace. Contemporary research highlights the growth of professional–managerial hybrids, and the blurring of professional and organisational boundaries. Within this context, the restratification thesis offers a relevant sociological lens for understanding the emergence and implications of these hybrid elite roles. Research tends to support the broad descriptive aspect of the thesis, but there remains much debate about its explanatory accuracy. The paper reviews Freidson's thesis and develops three areas of theoretical debate and elaboration related to questions of elite power, culture and identity, and relational contingency, with particular reference to the experiences of the medical profession. The paper re‐interprets hybrid elite roles in terms of their points of ‘professional–organisational intersection’ from which it develops a tentative extension of Freidson's categorisation.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)688-704
JournalSociology Compass
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2014