Work lives of professionals
Policies, professional associations, managers and clients
At the moment, there is an intense debate going on concerning professionals and professionalism in the public sector. Research shows that public professionals are experiencing increasing pressures as they have to take into account several output performance norms, and these often conflict with their own professional standards or with the demands of increasingly empowered clients. Several studies show an increasing discontent among public professionals, both in the Netherlands (Honingh and Karstanje 2007; Van den Brink et al. 2006), and abroad (De Ruyter et al. 2008; Hebson et al. 2003; Pratchett and Wingfield 1996). In this chapter we will analyze such problems that public professionals have with the policy they have to implement in terms of ‘policy alienation’, thereby elaborating on the concept of work alienation as developed in the field of sociology of work and labor (for example Blauner 1964) . We define policy alienation as a general cognitive state of psychological disconnection, from the policy program to be implemented, by a public professional who, on a regular basis, interacts directly with clients.