Thursday, May 15, 2008
Library Science with a slant to Documentation andInformation Studies. Vol. 36, No.3, 1999. Paper T. p155-164.
LIBRARIANSHIP AND TJIE PROFESSIONAL MODEL: ASOCIOLOGICAL TUTORIAL AND CRITIQUE / Rajashekar S.Devarai* and L.S.R.C. V. Ramesh**
An attempt is made in this paper to critically highlight some of the sociological issues concerningLibrarianship (LIS) as a profession. Different theoretical formulations are discussed.Importance of the studies of sociology of occupations and professions for librarians isemphasized. Useful suggestions are offered towards achievement of fulfledged status ofLibrarianship (LIS) as a profession.
KEYW ARDS/DESCRIPTORS: Librarianship; Professional model; Sociological issues:ProcessP: ower;W ay of life; Profesion;I mage;S tatus;
I nformation sciencenaturally they all feel that theirs is a full fledgedprofession. They are also highly confident thattheir occupation can stand the test of a profession.They are also equally worried and apprehensiveabout non-recognition of their services in societyto the extent required.
1 INTRODUCTIONPresently we are in the age of informationcharacterisedb y technological advancements,industrialisation and urbanisation leading towardsmore employment opportunities, availabilityof goods and services to a large mass ofpopulation across the globe. This, in turn hasresultedin the proliferationo f jobs, crafts,t radesand occupationsa, part from establishedp rofessionslike legal practices and medicine.It is right time for librarianship to have a selfexamination in the light of professional model.Librarians need to know about processes ofemergence of a profession. Professions aresocial facts, social/economic categories highlyvalued for their services and commitment insociety. Sociologists are the scholars and researcherswho also study trades, jobs, crafts,vocations, occupations and professions in theirright perspectives in society. To understand therole of occupations and professions in society andthereby to understand and comprehend librarion'sarole and possition in society. It isnecessary to understand some of the sociologicalconcepts. This understanding, should unlock themystery of the people's conception of the role,In the competitive world every craft, trade oroccupation exerts itself to achieve this honorifictitle of a 'profession' which symbolises statusand position in society. Librarianship is one suchoccupational category which is aspiring for thishonorific title which entitles it for higher status,position, income and so on in society. In thispaper an attempt is made to assess the position ofLibrarianship as per the professional model.Librarians world over are very much concernedabout their low image and status in society. Quite. --- -- "","~T"""* HeadL ibrarian, ResourceC entre,N ational Instituteo f FashionT echnology.N ampally, Hyderabad,I NDIA.** CentralL ibrary and DocumentationC entre,A .N.G.R. Agricultural University, RajendranagarH, yderabadI,N DIA.Devarai; Rameshstatusa ndp osition of variouso ccupationst,r adesin society about which an average librarianwonders time and again. Hence an attempt ismade here to clarify important sociologicalconceptsr elating to occupationsa ndp rofessions.the profession one pursues itself may become astatus symbol.2 PROFESSIONAL MODELProfessional model is a sociological constructexplaining about those occupational categoriesknown as professions bestowed with unusuallyhigh status, prestige and position in society. Bynow it is clear that an occupation is a set ofeconomic activities, and these activities areintended towards earning a living. Whereas aprofession is a high class occupation consistingof highly trained sp~cialists carrying on a veryimportant role in society. There is no universallyaccepted definition of a profession. Cogan after surveying numerous attempts to define theterm concludes that a profession is a vocationwhose practice is founded upon an understandingof the theoritical stucture of some depart oflearning or science and upon the abilities accompanyingsuch understanding. This understandpinrgacaticnadl tahfefasiers a obfi limtieasn . are applied to. the vitalSociology is an objective and scientific study ofsocial relationships in society. To quote W.P.Scoft  'Sociology is the scientific study ofhuman social behaviour. Sociology studies theprocessesa nd patternso f individual and groupinteraction, the forms of organisation of socialgroups, the interrelationships among them andgroup influence on individual behaviour'. Thesociologists tudiest he structurea nd processeso fsocial life as a whole...  TQe study ofoccupationsa nd professionsis an integral part ofsociogy and the specialisation is termed asSociology of professions have varying roles,status and prestiges in society, one has to knowthe concept of social stratification is relatiavelya pennanent ranking of statuses and roles in asocial system ranging from a small group to asociety in tennso f differ-entapl rivileges.p restigeinfluence and power. In simple tenns it is thehierarchical arrangement of social strata in asociety. In this sense social stratification refersspecifically to the social class or caste system ofa society . Caste determines its members'prestige,o ccupation,p lace of residenceo r socialrelations basing itself on heredity. It is m°t:e orless an closed stratum. Whereas class is more orless a open system. It refers to a large categoryof people who share a common social andeconomic status in relation to other segments oftheir society. The history of human ci,'ilisationindicates that these two social categories whichguide the social stratification pattern of thesociety predominantly decide the status, positionand role of the variety occupations and professionsin society. Even now we find somecommunities primarily adopting their age oldoccupation for their living as'a caste occupation.e.g., carpentry, pottery etc. And in the other wayround people adopt to various trades, vocations,jobs and professions based on their socioeconomicstatus and position, education andtraining in society. Hence the close relation ofclassa ndt hat of occupations/professionsIn. turnThere is no universally accepted theory of professions.When socilogical literature is persued onecomes across three theoretical formulationswhich conceptualise profession and professionalisation.A very lucid explanation is foundin a work on journalism by R.K. Sharma .The three formulations are:2.1 Attribution-,2.2 Process -!2.3 Powerfunctionalismconflict theorYThese three theoretical fonnulations fall into twobroadt heoreticapl erspectivesi,. e., functionalismand the conflict theory. The functional theoryassumesth at societyh asc ertain needsa ndt hat itdevelops certain institutional structures in orderto fulfill such needs. Following this assumptionthe functionalp erspectivep oints to the existenceof the existence of a functional linkage betweenprofession and society . Professions characterisedby traits through central needs of thesociety are effectively catered to [4, 38]. The--,,".Library ScienceLibrarianship and the ProfessionaMl odelconflict theory views professions in ter;ms of theirrelations to society .education, 3. Competence, 4. Code of conduct, 5.Service, 6. Organisation . A librarian andsociologist in himself, after a personal of sociologicalliterature on the concept of professionidentified and summarised the following corechracteristics which are commonly acceptedthese days through out the world: 1. Specialisedknowledge and skills; 2. Research and continuousin-service updating of specialised knowledge;3. Intellectual activity; 4. Social necessity;6. Recognition by people and status in society; 7.Standardised terminology; 8. Close knit professionalorganisation having an altruistic philosophy;9. Stability of the profession throughpermanent membership; 10. Code of ethics forthe practitioners; 11. Autonomy of the profession;and 12. Authority of the practitioners.2.1 Attributional ApproachThis is a very popular approach adopted by manysociologists and individual practitioners forstudying a particular occupatiohj.practice (orgroup of occupations/practices) and put the samein the continuum of professions Barber andMillerson [4, 34]. The major emphasis of thisapproach is on traits or attributes an occupation/trade has to have so as to qualify itself as a profession.Though opinions vary, there seems to be aset of attributes or traits commonly accepted as asine-qua-non for a profession. When one persuesthough the lists of attributes/traits propounded byvarious theorists, through at the outset thereappears a wide ,,:ariation, a close observation andanalysis reveals that the attributes/traits revolvearound a few core parameters. Barber, Millerson,Shaffer Gode and Legatt [4,34,42,21,31] areprominent among those who tried to list a set ofattributes of professions. At the outset theattributes listed by various social scientists seemto vary. A close observation and analysis reealsa satisfying similarity and uniformity amongstthe social scientists. To cite Reeves , the listsof attributes varies from scholar to scholar but ageneral consensus is claimed upon a few attributes.No chararacteristics enumerated by themcontradict each other. Goode , a reputedsociologist and theoretician who dealt at lengthon the topic of librarianship as a profession,mentions a basic body of abstract knowledge andthe ideal of service as the two central generatingqualities of a profession. Barber  emphasizeson the attributes of knowledge, communityinterest, self control of behaviour through codeof ethics, voluntary associations and a system ofrewards. Legatt  laid stress on theoreticalesoteric knowledge, sociolisation, altrustic service,control and code of ethics, as the core traitsof professions, Millerson (1964) in his book onQualifying Associations analysed the characteristicsenumerated by 21 commentators and liststhe following as the most frequently mentioned:1. Theoritical knowledge, 2. Training and2.2 The Process ApproachAs the very name indicates in this approach theprocess by which an occupation develops slowlyinto a profession is emphasised. It is perceivedas a continuum from occupation/non-professionto profession. The status of an oGcupation in thecontinum depends on the acquisition of numberof attributes and the extent of acquisition of eac~of them. Hughes is the major advocate of thisapproach. Significant question according to himis to identify the circumstances in which peoplein an occupation attempt to turn it into aprofession and themselves into professionalpeople. Professionalisation according to him isa change of status of the occupation to its ownpast and to other occupations. As in apparentfrom the above description, here, the process ofdevelopment of the topologies of occupations,non-professions and professions is emphasized.Many social scientists hav~ tried to list thesequence of steps by which an occupation movesfrom that of an occupation/non-professionJenkins G. Harris.  defines the vari'able ofprofessionalisation in terms of six consistentelements: structural, contextual, activity, educationaland behavioural.Voz..J6N o.3 Septembe1r 999-157Devarai; Rame.s-hSocial scientists like Barber. Wilensky andCaplow specialising in professional approach tryto enlist steps in the process of professionalisationas fol10ws:Cap/ow 1970)Establishment of a professional associatian.2Barber (1963).3Change in the name of the occupation.Development of code of ethics.45Prolonged politi<:al agitations to obtainthe support of public power.The concurrent development of training" facilities.Leaders of the emerging professioncomparing their level to that of thebeginning history of the developedprofessions.Publishing code of ethics.The professional approach is criticised mainly forits bias towards functionalism. According tocritics it may not be practicable to plan professionson a single continuum on the basis of attributesof the profession. No uniform process ofprofessionaJisation applicable universally isbeing observed. It is also criticised as historical.Trying to strenghthen professionalassociations."t4. Establishingm easuresa nd titles of moreor less professional behaviour.5 Establishing university professionalschools.6 Putting up public information campaIgns.2.3 The Power Theorists Approach'7 The leaders of an emerging professionwill have to engage in some conflict withelements both inside and outside theiroccupational groups.An againstt hef unctionlistic approacht,h ep owertheorists approach based on conflict model laysemphasis on power. Power theorists don't seemto bother much about the dichotomy of professionand a non-professsion. The power of aprofession can be visualised through its authority,autonomy and monopoly over its sphere ofwork, Uncertainly, unpredictability, indeterminancyand mystery are the enhancing factors ofthe power of an occupation.Wilenskv ( 1964)Wilensky who seeks to establish that there is anatural history of professionalisation identifiestheses tagesa st hosef ollowed on the route to professionalstatus by the established professions:The threea pproachese xplaineda bovev ary witheach other both with regard to their content andemphasis. The attibutional. functional and theprocesses approach falls under the conflictorientaion. Individual sociologists usually dealwith the problems in the area of sociology ofoccupationsa ndp rofessionst aking insightsf romanyone of the above approaches. T.J. Johnson hast ried to synthesizet he above approachesand apply the same to his research designs.According to him 'profession is a type ofoccupation that has had the power to haveundergone a developmental process whereby ithas been able to acquire or convince aganistsignificant others that it has acquired a highThe occupation is followed ful1time2 Formal training is establishedThis training is provided within univer.sity.3.Local and then national professionalassociationsa re formed as the core tasksare defined in competition with neighbouringoccupations.115.fiPolitical activity leads to legally con.trolled licensing and certification. andA formal code of ethical practice is developed.-158 Librarv Scienl'pmajority, 82% or four out of five librarians areconvinced that the status is low . A veryimportant sociological observation is thatlibrarians seem not to have a different conceptionof their status which differs from that of thesociety. Again to quote from H. Prins , wecan conclude that the workers in the library andinformation services don't have a deviantopinion in relation to the rating of the generalpublic. As revealed from the RTMLA survey thethree main causes of low status and profile oflibrarianship are: 1. Invisibility, 2. Education and3. Profesional culture. Devraj and Damodaram assert, the future status and position oflibrarians' practice depen~s on how keenly andsincerely they address and focus their attentionon the information needs of common man.degree of constellation of those characteristicswhich denote a profession.Librarianship as a profession has already attractedthe attention of sociologists and otherresearche~s. In the absense of genuine empiricalresearch, the area of study (sociology of professionsas applied to LIS) is filled with lots and lotsof biased opinions, off hand statements, loosecomments without any bias, background orverifiable data.A general observation indicates that the researcherseemt o haveu sedf unctionala pproachwhile studying librarianship as a profession. Forarriving at a better picture of the state of affairsof the professioni t is necessaryth at studiesb econductedu sing all the three approachesm entionedabove. Librarians seem not to use anymodel that produces the result that theirs is asemi-professiono r a non-professionT. hey seemto be on the look out for alternative models andapproachesfo r thesek inds of studies.S ystemsapproachis one suchm odel .Right since beginning, the trait or attributionapproach is very extensively employed injudging the professional standing of a particularoccupation/vocationA. s far asl ibrarianshipa saprofession is concerned studies fall into threecategoriesa ccordingt o Chopra[ 11]. Therei s noconcensusw hatsoevero n the positiona nds tatusof librarianshipi n the world of occupationsa ndprofessions. He has classified the authors/thinkers/ social scientists into three categoriesi.e.:3 LIBRARIANSHIP AS A PROFESSIONStudies on librarianship as a profession aregenerally conducted by librarians themselves.Writings of librarians on librarianship as aprofession are more of a descriptive explanatory,biaseds, entimentaal ndp rofessionlisedty pe withvery lessse mphasiso n researcha nd objectivity.Nevethlesst he off hand statementsa nd loosecommentsa rea rich sourceo f informationw hichassist in filling in the gaps of research as far asproffesiological studies on librarianship areconcerned.Librarianship isa fulfledgedprofession1. Dewey, M(1876)2. Bundy M L &WashennanP(1968)3. Edwards R. F(1975)4. North J A(1977)5. ReevesW J(1981)6. Ashiem L(1979)7. Birdsall W F(1980)Librarianship isan emergingprofessionLibrarianshipis not aprofession1. Labour2. Madden HM 2. Goode W J(1964)3. RossiLibrarianship is generally believed to possesslow image and status in society. According toMargaret C. Jones Lack of status is a problemwhich affects librarians world wide, and it seemsthat little progress has been made sinceRanganathan called in 1969 for librarians totake action to establish their usefulness tosociety. A survey conducted by Round Table forthe management of Library Associations(RTMLA) reveals that, a overwhelming4. Blake F M(1965)5. Shaffer D E(1968)6. Gillis R(1976)3. Moon E(1965)4. Moore W E(1970)5. McPheron J(1974)7. Huq. AMA(1978)Devarai; RameshAs evident from the above table some professiologistsargue it not to be a profession; somethink it to be an emerging profession and yetsome consider it to be a fulfledged profession.The latest references cited above is that the LISprofession today is fast undergoing changes.dresses, looks, the place he lives in and thesurroundingsa ll speako f a distinct life style,t hebest example being that of a doctor or a lawyer.If librarians are serious about enhancing theirimage and status they must opt to practice it as away of life. It will be extremely difficult forlibrarians to a chieve professional status if they4 SOCIOLOGY OF LIBRARIANSHIP limit themselvesto officialdom andb ureacracy.LIS (3) professionals are familiar with terms like'Library and Community' and Library andSociety. In facat LIS professionals need to consolidatethe literature which is widely scattteredon the theme mentioned above into what isknown as Sociology of Librarianship. Accordingto Binwal  if the term sociology oflibrarianship is substituted for such type ofstudies, a new horizon can be added to the domainof library science. It shall not only consolidatethe work done in the field but also stimulte furtherresearch. Hence there is a need to define anddelineate the scope of socioloigy of librarians hip.Sociology of librarianship, an applied field ofsociology is defined as the scientific analysis ofthe social procesers and patterns involved in thelibrary system . Understanding of sociologyof librarianship helps many a librarians to unravelthe mystery of their low profile and status insociety and to find ways and means of the processof professional development. This understandingalso helps librarians to work out long termstt:ategies to prove their social relevance, whichis the most crucial source of enhancing the socialand professional image.Library and information centres. are to be keptopen round the clock . Librarians shouldhave proper identification by their attire andstyle. He should strive hard t
Librarianship is a noble professional. Librarians are noble.
knobits and knowbytes RajLibrarian at 4:15 PM