Market fundamentalism, cultural fragmentation, post-modern skepticism, and the future of professional work

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Professional work is being attacked by three separate but related forces that transcend easy categorization; market fundamentalism, the rigid belief that unfettered and unregulated free markets will deliver higher quality professional services at lower prices, cultural fragmentation resulting from globalization and the spread of easily available information, and post-modern skepticism reflected in criticisms of modernist scientific programs emanating from the academic left. Both market fundamentalism and post-modern skepticism look askance at professional attempts to tie the institutions of professional practice to widely held societal values and general well-being, and there is an intellectual affinity between their political programs that attack collective action in the name of championing the common good. Neither one has a practical program for average consumers and clients to navigate a fragmented, information-intensive, and threatening world. Professionals who exercise agency in response to these threats have a number of responses available to them as risk managers in a risk society, as trusted interpreters of information, as embodiments of values and ideology, and as embodiments of institutions and promoters of institutional change. The ability of professional groups to effectively construct these responses is not completely in their control but partly rests on the ability to adapt to cultural diversity and fragmentation and their ability to highlight the ahistorical and culturally damaging effects of unfettered globalized market competition. There are no guarantees dystopian futures pose a danger to the future of professional work and the clients and consumers who depend on them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberjov006
Pages (from-to)103-117
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Professions and Organization
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • cultural
  • post-modern
  • professional

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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