* Occupational reputation as viewed by public opinion

Occupational reputation as viewed by the general public is among interesting topics immediately related to labour issues and, indirectly, to other problem areas such as value orientation or modernization. At the end of last year, occupational reputation was analysed as part of one of the ongoing investigations of the Centre for Public Opinion Research (CVVM) of the Sociological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.

In it, respondents assessed twenty-six selected professions at the scale of 1 to 99 based on their reputation.

First of all, results of the investigation relatively clearly proved the absolutely privileged position of doctors. They enjoy high prestige with an absolute majority of population. Doctors were placed at the very top of the entire ladder with the score of 99 by 41% of respondents; another 35% assigned the medical profession a mark between 90 and 98 points. From the point of view of reputation attributed to it, the medical profession surpassed, in a major way, other highly-valued and skill-demanding professions that, like doctors, also involve certain ethos, have a character of social service and are sometimes perceived more as missions than ways of earning one’s living. To a certain degree, this undoubtedly holds for scientists or university teachers. They ranked closely second and third. Following, at some distance, apparently reflecting differences in qualification demands and related exclusivity of both preceding professions, the primary school teachers (similar to the preceding professions in its nature) ranked fourth on the scale. The leading position of doctors as measured by reputation ascribed to their profession by the general public is not a random phenomenon at all. All similar surveys organised by CVVM or its predecessor, the Institute for Public Opinion Research (Institut pro výzkum veřejného mínění) at the Czech Statistical Office since 1993 yielded similar results. One of reasons behind the fact that medical profession ranks higher with majority of the general public than, for example, the profession of a scientist, might be that people have developed a much stronger relationship to doctors based on the feeling of their own dependency on doctors. Practically everybody of us needs a doctor at least from time to time. But, on the other hand, scientific profession, in its way much more exclusive than the general practitioner profession, is rather distant for a majority of population in this comparison. In addition, the medical profession is perceived to involve very strong direct responsibility for human health and lives and this also might greatly reinforce the status of doctors in the eyes of the public.

Among relatively favourably assessed professions whose average score was high above the average of the scale were the programmer or designer. These professions require great special expert skills and bring along, in addition to highly above-average income for the most part, the possibility of independent creative decision-making. Previous investigations (not entirely comparable to the last CVVM’s research because they contained a slightly modified list of professions but contained both stated professions as well as most of other items) imply that the reputation of both professions had gradually grown over the past ten years and that they have moved up a lot on the professional ladder.

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