Not customers: doctors have patients, libraries have patrons, lawyers have clients and teachers have students

Professionalization isn’t perfect: historically, professional societies “were structured around hierarchies of gender and race and laypeople were expected to obey expert judgment without even asking questions.”

But professionals were also organized around ethics of service and morals, with professional standards that required practitioners to use their expertise to further the public good.

Decades of neoliberal marketization has flattened out these service-based ethics, turning every kind of professional into just another kind of business with customers who expect “customer service,” and “value for money.” When teachers have “students,” they are meant to teach those students the truth. But once teachers have “customers,” they are expected to teach the things that deliver “satisfaction” — Young Earth Creationism, eugenics, Lost Cause historical revisionism, and so on.

The same goes for doctors and patients (when customers satisfaction trumps health, doctors are tempted to overprescribe antibiotics and engage in other unsavory conduct), librarians and patrons, lawyers and clients, and all the other relationships that have historically been defined beyond mere market-based customer/vendor relationships.

(For years, I’ve been dismayed by the rise of “CEOs” and other corporate titles in the nonprofit sector.)

We live in a complex, technological society, where navigating the everyday (deciding what to eat, how to configure your devices, how to help your kids navigate social media, and what to do when you get sick, etc) requires that you seek out experts to guide you through. Even the smartest and most diligent among us cannot hope to master all these subjects.

Read the full article @ Boing Boing

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