Freer, Elaine Abigail Odette (2016) Professional associations, agency, motivation and capacity for change: The case of social mobility and the Bar. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

[thumbnail of FreerPhD2016.pdf]

Download (2MB) | Preview


This thesis uses a mixed methods approach utilising questionnaires, focus groups and interviews to explore how and why an embedded professional association may act to alter a longstanding trait of its profession. Focussing on the trait of social closure at the English
Bar, it uses an access programme (Pegasus Access and Support Scheme - PASS) created by a professional association of the Bar (The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple) as a case study.

Social closure occurs through mechanisms controlling access to the profession. Whilst formal and explicit exclusionary strategies existed historically, more informal exclusionary barriers still operate. These indirectly disadvantage those from lower socio-economic
backgrounds as they emphasise aspirant entrants’ social capital and habituation to the social norms of the Bar. One way in which these attributes can be assimilated or increased is through mini-pupillage; work experience in barristers’ chambers.

PASS provides mini-pupillage opportunities to non-traditional aspirant entrants. More widely, it could be construed as a challenge to exclusionary recruitment practices. However, such a challenge requires that the conceptions of merit underlying exclusionary recruitment
practices, as well as the practices themselves, are altered. By maintaining the privilege attached to mini-pupillage, PASS was not as radical as sometimes portrayed. The educational and social contexts of students participating in the programme also influenced
its efficacy.

A challenge to patterns of social closure requires a collaboration between the professional
association’s elite, and salaried staff with specialist knowledge of access and education from other professional backgrounds. This emphasises the role of individuals and agency in such action. Despite the general diminished power of professional associations, there remains
potential for innovative action. This is realised when the attributes of the professional association combine with acts of agency by individuals which cause elite influence and alternative institutional logics to mutually reinforce one another.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Law
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2017 10:59
Last Modified: 01 Jan 2019 01:30

Actions (login required)

View Item
View Item