Closure in the elite professions: the field of law and medicine in an egalitarian context

Thea Bertnes Strømme and Marianne Nordli Hansen takes on how elite professions have managed to maintan their exclusivity in Norway.

This article examines if and how the elite professions of law and medicine have managed to maintain their exclusivity in a period of educational expansion in Norway. The extent to which these professions disproportionately recruit students with socio-economically advantageous backgrounds is seen as an indication of intergenerational closure. Using registry data covering the entire population of Norway over a 26-year time span, we show that even though these two professions have experienced growing numbers of candidates, they manage, partly due to different institutional strategies, to maintain their exclusivity. Parents’ income and self-recruitment are relatively stable and important factors for the recruitment in both fields, although these trends are somewhat higher in law than in medicine. Drawing on Turner’s (1960) ideal-typical concepts of contest and sponsor mobility, we pinpoint institutional differences between the types of education provided for both groups and how these have adapted to meet the expansion in candidates seeking to qualify as lawyers and doctors.

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Tags: Social closure, self-recruitment, elite professions, inequality, contest mobility, sponsor mobility By Strømme, Thea Bertnes; Hansen, Marianne Nordli
Published Mar. 29, 2017 12:28 PM - Last modified Mar. 29, 2017 2:42 PM