Jurisdictional engagements: Rethinking change in professional authority via pragmatic sociology

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

This article discusses the fruitfulness of Laurent Thévenot’s pragmatic sociology of engagements to the study of change in professional authority, a central yet unresolved theoretical issue in the sociology of professions. Invoking Andrew Abbott’s seminal notion of professional jurisdiction as starting point, the article uncovers how pragmatic sociology’s landmark model of dynamics of justification contains the seeds of an original reworking, build on plural grammars of legitimacy for shoring up public-political authority for expert-professional groups. Adding to this, Thévenot’s elaboration of plan-based and familiar engagement regimes allows one to grasp the equally important role of professionals’ co-shaping of state regulatory instruments and work practices of experience-based judgment, respectively. Professional authority, in this framework, is sustained and undergo meso-historical change at the intersection of these three engagement regimes. Illustrations are drawn from three collaborative case studies of inter-professional coordination in domains of urban climate adaptation, lifestyle disease prevention, and innovation management.
TidsskriftEuropean Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)197-225
Antal sider29
StatusUdgivet - 2022

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Danish Council for Independent Research–Social Sciences, [grant number DFF–6109-00063]; Samfund og Erhverv, Det Frie Forskningsråd. The author thanks his three fellow inquirers on the Global challenges, local solutions? project, Maria Duclos Lindstrøm, Marie Leth Meilvang and Inge Kryger Pedersen, for kindly collaborating to share the empirical insights underlying this paper’s theoretical claims. He also thanks participants at the Citizens in the Making (CIM) workshop in Helsinki, December 10–11 2019, for helpful suggestions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 European Sociological Association.


  • Justification work, pragmatic sociology, professional authority, state forms, workplace familiarity

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