How Formality Works: The Case of Environmental Professionals

  • Harald A. Mieg Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH)
  • Steffen de Sombre Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach
  • Matthias Andreas Näf Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH)


This article provides an overview of our research on environmental professionals in Switzerland over the last twenty years. From the beginning, we were interested in studying how formality functions in this field and how abstraction drives jurisdictional change We started with the goal of examining professsionalization, i.e., the question of whether a new environmental profession arises. Our findings suggest this has not yet occurred; instead, we observe increased scientification of the field, underlining the role of science-based formalization (providing social capital in the form of a science-based language). We analyze a survey on environmental professionals and show how abstraction works: reduction and formalization as two distinct forms of abstraction are specifically related to inter- and intra-professional competition.


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How to Cite
Mieg, H., de Sombre, S., & Näf, M. (2013). How Formality Works: The Case of Environmental Professionals. Professions and Professionalism, 3(1).