Organizational Authority and Professional Responsibility in Clinical Sociology

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When, if ever, are clinical sociologists justified in accepting the directives of employers and management sponsors as setting the parameters within which they proceed with their work? In particular, is it ever permissible for clinical sociologists to accept an employer's or a manager-sponsor's definition of a problem to be studied, even though they may not view it as the more fundamental problem needing study in the situation? These questions are important for understanding the professional role and moral responsibilities of practitioners in the still-coalescing profession of clinical sociology. They also have increasing practical importance at a time when job opportunities for sociologists are shifting from academia to industry and government-both within organizations as employees and as external organizational consultants.


This article was originally published in Clinical Sociology Review, volume 1, issue 1, in 1982.

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Wayne State University