Historians will give no thanks for being told that professionalization models are fraught with pitfalls as putative interpretations of scientific development. When deployed stricto sensu, essentially to trace the evolution of the remunerated career structure, the concept of professionalization invites blinkered antiquarian administrative history. Too easily, however, the jargon can serve as a blanket pseudo-explanation of the key phenomena of modern science, and thereby it loses all precision. Thus a recent author, having noted that professionalization is a Protean term, concludes ‘perhaps we can use it to mean the emergence of a scientific community’. But this runs the risk of collapsing quite distinct concepts into each other, and thereby of begging the very questions which must be faced.
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