What purpose is served by renovation or redesign of professionalism, and how successful a process is it likely to be? This article addresses these questions by examining the effectiveness as a professional development mechanism of the imposition of changes to policy and/or practice that require modification or renovation of professionalism. The ‘new’ professionalisms purported to have been fashioned over the last two or three decades across the spectrum of UK education sectors and contexts have been the subject of extensive analysis, and this article avoids going over old ground and revisiting issues that have already been much debated. Nevertheless, the example of UK government education policy during this period is used as a basis for considering the pitfalls associated with mechanisms for modifying professionalism through a reform and standards agenda. The article’s analysis incorporates redefinition and examination of the concept and substance of professionalism and offers new perspectives in the form of three distinct conceptions: demanded, prescribed and enacted professionalism. Exploring the existentialist status of ‘new’ or ‘modified’ professionalisms and the relationship between professionality, professional culture and professionalism, it examines how professionalism may be interpreted and utilized for the development of education professionals
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