This much-needed book provides a systematic introduction, both conceptual and applied, to the sociology of the professions. Keith Macdonald guides the reader through the chief sociological approaches to the professions, addressing their strengths and weaknesses. The discussion is richly illustrated by examples from and comparisons between the professions in Britain, the United States and Europe, relating their development to their cultural context. The social exclusivity that professions aim for is discussed in relation to social stratification, patriarchy and knowledge, and is thoroughly illustrated by reference to examples from medicine and other established professions, such as law and architecture. The themes of the book are drawn together in a final chapter by means of a case study of accountancy.