Death of the Guilds

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Professions, States, and the Advance of Capitalism, 1930 to the Present

Elliott A. Krause

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In a uniquely wide-ranging analysis of modern professional group power, Elliott A. Krause looks at four traditional professions: medicine, law, university teaching, and engineering. His richly detailed comparison of the autonomy and leverage these professions wield in five countries—the United States, Britain, France, Italy, and Germany—reveals many differences among the countries and the professions. Yet in the past three decades each professional group in each country has experienced a marked decline in its powers in relation to the state and to capitalist institutions. With a shift toward capitalist control, Krause contends, the professions operate more on a for-profit basis, and increased rationing of services becomes more likely.

For these professional groups, powers such as control over association and training for the profession, over the workplace, over the market for services, and over the group's relation to the state peaked by the late 1950s and early 1960s. After that, Krause's nation-by-nation social historical comparison shows, the actions of states, of capitalist employers of professionals, or of the two together have eroded professional group power. This loss of power, Krause cautions, will lead to fewer benefits for consumers of professional services as providers respond less to consumer needs and more to the priorities of capitalists who arrange the services and determine who shall receive them. And, as the professions surrender non-capitalist values, they become no different from any other occupations.

"Head and shoulders above the work of other scholars, Krause's approach to professions, states, and capitalism is ambitious, sweeping, and indeed original."—Louis H. Orzack, Rutgers University

Elliott A. Krause is Matthews Distinguished University Professor and professor of sociology at Northeastern University.

"Krause gives a fuller and more revealing comparison of professional lives than any of his predecessors has achieved."—Thomas L. Haskell, New York Review of Books

"Head and shoulders above the work of other scholars, Krause's approach to professions, states, and capitalism is ambitious, sweeping, and indeed original."—Louis H. Orzack, Rutgers University

"A refreshing antidote to the prevailing wisdom on the power of professions. Krause offers a persuasive comparative analysis of the subordination of professions to corporate and state control. Should be on the reading list of every sociologist of the professions and any professional—whether doctor, lawyer, or teacher—brave enough to contemplate the prospects of their impending decline."—Charles Derber, author of Power in the Highest Degree and The Wilding of America

"This is a truly remarkable, original, and thought-provoking book. Krause does a comparative-historical analysis of major professions (engineers, physicians, lawyers, academics) in the United States, Britain, France, Italy, and Germany. He focuses on how these professions have changed in relation to their political, social, and economic context. He shows how the guild power of professionals has decreased in recent years because of state control and capitalism, and how professions are also becoming more rationalized in these countries. In sum, this is a very important piece of scholarship for the history and the sociology of professions, and for political sociology, socioeconomics, and political economy more generally."—Jean-Guy Vaillancourt, Université de Montréal

"In Death of the Guilds, Krause leaves all the one-nation one-profession studies far behind. His unique comparative study establishes on firm ground the reciprocal, tripartite relationship of state, society, and the self-organization of specially skilled workers, making a major contribution not only to the theory of professions but also to the sociology of the Western state. Death of the Guilds is a rare and important corrective to the provincialism that too often afflicts sociology research."—Magali Sarfatti Larson, Temple University

"An illuminating book, particularly for physicians bewildered by the hostility of social forces currently besieging them."—Books, Journals, New Media

"Elliot Krause has certainly produced an illuminating book, particularly for physicians bewildered by the hostility of social forces currently besieging them."—George Ross Fisher, JAMA

"A significant addition to and expansion of the study of professional work."—Choice

"For students of the theory of professions, this book provides a valuable extension and clarification of what Krause calls 'guild power.'"—Rosemary A. Stevens, New England Journal of Medicine

"This book must be engaged by any scholar working in the countries or on the professions or even states canvassed by Krause. . . . There is much here that provokes hard questions about theory, concepts, methodology, and ultimately the general thesis itself."—Terence C. Halliday, Work and Occupations

"Krause's original contribution to comparative sociology may mark the halfway house towards the corporatization of the state as well as the professions."—Donald W. Light, Society

"A major comparative study of the professions is long overdue, and Elliott Krause has supplied one. . . . Death of the Guilds is a valuable compendium, extraordinary in its range and filled with insights about particular professions and their national contexts."—Robert Zussman, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

ISBN: 9780300067583
Publication Date: August 28, 1996
320 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4