Trust in Public Professionals and their Professions

Authored by: Frédérique Six

The Routledge Companion to Trust

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138817593
eBook ISBN: 9781315745572
Adobe ISBN:


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Trust in professions is inherently linked to the special position that professions have within our societies. This special position is based on two foundations: their unique expert knowledge and their commitment to public service and societal values (Evetts, 2006; Freidson, 2001). Professionalism as a governance mechanism (cf. Freidson, 2001) is therefore particularly appropriate for tasks and task environments that may be characterized as factually complex – there is uncertainty about what and how things work – and normatively homogeneous with no contested standards and values (Bannink, 2013; Matland, 1995; Noordegraaf & Abma, 2003). This chapter focuses on public professionals, i.e. professionals performing public tasks, like doctors, nurses, teachers or social workers. Public tasks are (partly) funded by the government, even though there may be parallel private markets such as in private education or private health care. It excludes professions that are (primarily) privately funded like consultants, lawyers or engineers.

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