Professionalisation and ophthalmic optics

  • Alan Fielding

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis is a sociological study of the ophthalmic optical profession in Britain. It includes a survey of the development of ophthalmic optics as an occupation and three questionnaire, surveys, one each of first and final year ophthalmic optics students, and one of practising opticians.
The developmental survey showed that four themes have been important in the occupation's process of professionalisation - the actions of the opticians' leaders, the gradual unification of the bodies, representing segments of the profession, the struggle with medicine and the involvement of ophthalmic opticians in state-organised optical welfare schemes.
The student surveys showed that the profession is now recruiting largely from middle class, state educated groups, and increasingly from women, who hold significantly different attitudes to income, independence and career commitment. In general, both first and final year students considered service to be rather more important than furthering knowledge.
Practising opticians have been recruited increasingly, from middle class backgrounds, mostly from state selective secondary schools, but with a large minority from non-state schools. The self-recruitment rate of the profession (18.9%) is very similar to that for British medical students. Significant differences in concepts of professionalism were found among ophthalmic opticians of different ages, sexes and types of practice but few among those in different areas of practice. In general, ophthalmic opticians seemed to stress service more·than furthering knowledge.
It is suggested that the leaders of the profession have 'negotiated' considerable autonomy for its members and that the possibilities for
commercialism within the ophthalmic optician's professional role are intrinsically no greater than those in more 'established' professions.
Date of AwardApr 1978
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJohn Child (Supervisor)


  • Professionalisation
  • ophthalmic optics

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