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Identity through alliances: the British chemical engineer

Johnston, S.F., and Divall, C. (1999) Identity through alliances: the British chemical engineer. In: Hellberg, I., Saks, M. and Benoit, C. (eds.) Professional Identities in Transition: Cross-Cultural Dimensions. Series: Monografier utgivna av Sociologiska institutionen vid Göteborgs universitet (71). Almqvist & Wiksell, Södertälje, Sweden, pp. 391-408. ISBN 9789163082436

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Abstract

The development of a professional identity is particularly interesting for those occupations that have a troubled emergence. The hinterland between science and technology accommodates many such ‘in-between’ subjects with distinct attributes. Some of these specialisms disappear in the face of culturally stronger occupations. Others endure, their technical expertise becoming appropriated or mutated to serve the needs of different professional groups [Johnston 1996a]. This chapter is concerned with one extreme of these interstitial specialisms. Chemical engineering – a subject that by its very name is between the science of chemistry and the technology of engineering – did eventually become a profession, in at least some countries. It had a relatively easy time becoming established in America in the first third of this century. On the other hand, chemical engineering remained largely unrecognised in Germany until the 1960s, and has attracted a smaller professional community there. In Britain, the chemical engineering profession has evinced distinct transitions over a period of a century. It emerged to become an influential contributor to western economies and one of the ‘big four’ engineering professions (along with civil, mechanical and electrical engineering) after the second world war, due in large part to the unmindful aid of an influential, if capricious, sponsor: the state. Yet chemical engineers had a long and troubled history of contestation with other professions. Because of this, the British case is particularly appropriate for examining the continual re-casting of the professional identity in response to external and internal pressures.

Item Type:Book Section
Status:Published
Glasgow Author(s):Johnston, Prof Sean
Authors: Johnston, S.F., and Divall, C.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
T Technology > TP Chemical technology
H Social Sciences > HS Societies secret benevolent etc
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Publisher:Almqvist & Wiksell

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