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Power in the Highest Degree : Professionals and the Rise of a New Mandarin Order - Charles Derber

Power in the Highest Degree

Professionals and the Rise of a New Mandarin Order

Hardcover Published: 21st June 1990
ISBN: 9780195037784
Number Of Pages: 288

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Lawyer, doctor, scientist--these are the jobs Americans commonly cite when asked to list the most prestigious occupations. The word "professional" today implies expertise, authority, and excellence. To do a job professionally is to do it well. Yet in a society in which knowledge has become a prized asset and an advanced degree the ticket to wealth and power, the rise of professionalism has a darker, more ominous side.
Power in the Highest Degree, one of the most comprehensive studies of professionals ever undertaken, exposes professionalism as a double-edged sword; it illustrates how experts have come to "own" and control knowledge, much like the wealthy control capital, thereby transforming capitalist and socialist society, both for better and for worse. Knowledge long predates money as a source of power and wealth in human society, and professionals are only the most recent in a long succession of powerful knowledge classes that have included shaman, witchdoctors, and the Confucian mandarins who ruled China for over a thousand years.
Drawing on interviews with over 1,000 practicing professionals, the authors show how, by dispensing self-interested and morally colored judgements as scientific truth, modern professionals are consolidating a monopoly over what passes for objective knowledge. Experts discredit the ordinary knowledge of the general public to generate a vast market of dependent clients. The result is a powerful professional class that creates vital new knowledge and life-saving services, but also wields growing influence over a population deeply insecure about its ability to manage private and public affairs without "expert" guidance.
This sweeping study also reveals that more and more experts are abandoning private practice to work for corporations, becoming junior partners in a new "Mandarin capitalism." While often outspoken advocates of a more socially responsible business world, professionals have joined big business to produce one of the most pronounced divisions of mental and manual work in history, creating a new dispossessed majority, the uncredentialed. We learn of an experiment at Polaroid to give machine operators more responsibility which is cancelled when managers and engineers decided that they "just didn't want operators that qualified." The authors argue that, as this new "mandarin" class radically transforms the social order, it helps to reform some of the traditional scourges of the business world, but also poses a new threat to equality in America. To reverse this trend, they propose a post-professional society that de-emphasizes skill hierarchies and substantially democratizes knowledge.
A bold and incisive new work of social criticism, this book provides a fascinating look at the modern professional and provokes Americans to think in a new way about democracy in the age of experts.

Industry Reviews

"A penetrating analysis .... It is an excellent guide to the system of 'Mandarin Capitalism' that the others see emerging and its wide-ranging consequences"--Noam Chomsky "Many a page is delightful...full of insights" --Ivan Illich, author of Deschooling Society and Medical Nemesis "Power in the Highest Degree is an exciting, informative, and comprehenesive study of knowledge as power and control....Basic reading for the deepening of democracy and the weakening of inequalities in the '90s"--S.M. Miller, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Boston University "An excellent book...new, interesting, timely, and important"--Jack Seeley, author of Crestwood Heights "A thoughtful and thorough analysis of professionalism in the United States--required reading for any scholar concerned about the erosion of our democratic heritage"--Philip Slater, author of The Pursuit of Loneliness

Prefacep. vii
Introductionp. 3
Knowledge and Classp. 9
Spinning Knowledge into Gold: Knowledge as Propertyp. 11
Enclosing the Mindp. 25
The Birth of the Expert: Professionals' Official Story 1p. 27
Value Free at Last: Professionals' Official Story 2p. 36
Experts Against Expertise: the Counter-Official Storyp. 45
The Reign of Theory: Experts Say; Expertsp. 52
The Battle for the Mind: Professionals' Holy Warsp. 59
Enclosing the Commonsp. 77
A Class Education: Schooling for Mandarinsp. 79
The Mental/Manual Divide: the Hidden Injuries of Thoughtp. 98
Deeds to Knowledgep. 109
Mandarin Capitalismp. 117
Mandarin Capitalismp. 119
New Mandarins or New Proletariat? Professional Power at Workp. 122
Power to the Server: Keeping Clients in Their Placep. 140
Feeling like a Professional: Solidarity Among Expertsp. 154
Eyes on the Prize: Taking Charge of Businessp. 161
Toward a New Mandarin Order?p. 165
Planning for What? New-Class Politicsp. 167
Old Leftists, New Leftists, and Lumpen-Logocrats: the Radical Fringesp. 183
Conclusionp. 191
Knowledge Of, For, and by the People: Toward a Post.-Professional Orderp. 193
Postscript the New Class and Social Theoryp. 211
Appendix: The Project on Professionalsp. 227
Notesp. 229
Indexp. 261
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195037784
ISBN-10: 0195037782
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 21st June 1990
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.5 x 16.4  x 2.7
Weight (kg): 0.63