"Why society is straitjacketing its professionals and how we might release them"

The attachment was sent to me by Bill Bordass who with Richard Lorch and Stephen Hill is a passionate advocate of 'New Professionalism'.

In the attachment, Dr Iona Heath explains how and why the meaning of professionalism has been changed, deliberately, and without most people quite noticing, from a public service with a significant component of altruism, to business operations, driven primarily by financial incentives. She argues that the reason for this was, within her field of medicine, to destroy the potential alliance between doctor and patient in order to reduce the power of both parties. Where once the professional was deeply trusted as an ethical person, with the shift to a market economy, now professionals are assumed to be acting in their own interests unless constrained by regulation.

As altruism has withered, it seems that Dr Heath is saying that doctors have become servants of the pharmaceutical industry, prioritising profit over patients, and I would argue that architects have become servants of the construction industry, following leaders who are no longer interested or even capable of delivering the quality of buildings that their clients or the country needs; rather they have, by design or default, become specialists whose primary aim is to reap the financial rewards given to those who increase corporate construction industry profits. Thus many young architects find themselves, to their dismay, simply part of a dreadful self-serving money machine.

Dr Iona Heath quotes Zygmunt Bauman & Emmanuel Levinas: "To take a moral stance means to take responsibility for the Other; to act on the assumption that the well-being of the Other is a precious thing calling for my effort to preserve and enhance it." She also quotes the poet Aimé Césaire: “Beware, my body and my soul, beware above all of crossing your arms and assuming the sterile attitude of the spectator, because life is not a spectacle, because a sea of sorrows is not a proscenium, because a man who cries out is not a dancing bear.”

And she ends her talk by urging us strongly: "And that is why we must do everything possible not to lose the commitment, the courage, the openness, the willingness to keep thinking, that makes up the love in our professional labours."
 
 

Justin Bere

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