Professional work, especially in America and the English-speaking world, is under siege from a variety of sources. Labor markets for many professional groups have stagnated. Inequalities among practitioners have increased as some corners of the labor market take on “winner-take-all” qualities. New occupation and job choices animate the young (data science, financial analysis and an amorphous commitment to entrepreneurship are prominent examples). And, finally, cultural fragmentation has led to a questioning of expert claims in areas as diverse as medicine and environmental science, leading some to declare the existence of a “post-truth world” fueled by a wide-ranging war on expertise. This seminar explores these issues along with ways that skilled occupational groups can move forward from these seemingly insurmountable traps. These observations are part of a forthcoming book, The New Dark Age: American Professions in Decline (Rowman and Littlefield, 2020).
Kevin T Leicht, Professor Sociology, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana
Kevin T. Leicht is Professor and Past Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Illinois, former program officer for the Sociology and Big Data Programs at the U.S. National Science Foundation, and former Director of the Iowa Social Science Research Center at The University of Iowa, U.S.A.
He is the former editor of Research in Social Stratification and Mobility (the official journal of the Social Stratification Section of the International Sociological Association) and The Sociological Quarterly (the official journal of the Midwest Sociological Society). He has written extensively on issues relating to organizational and workplace change, economic development, globalization, and political sociology. His work has been funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, Spencer Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and his published articles have appeared in the American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, the Academy of Management Journal, Law and Society Review, and other outlets.
His published books include Professional Work (Blackwell, 2001), and Post-Industrial Peasants: The Illusion of Middle Class Prosperity (Worth, 2008) winner of the Midwest Sociological Society Best Book Award for 2009. His most recent work (The New Dark Age: American Professions in Decline, Rowman and Littlefield, 2019) examines the decline in status and prestige experienced by professional workers in the United States and elsewhere.