Some Recent Publications

Brophy, Sorcha A. 2019. “Health or Politics?: Organizational Maintenance in the AAFP.” Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 44(1):43-66. In this article, I present the results of a study of policy debates in the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). In recent years, the AAFP has debated and developed organizational stances on issues as varied as nuclear disarmament, gay marriage, policing, and climate change. This article considers the relationship of “political” policies to the ongoing maintenance of this professional association over time. I demonstrate that members use concerns about the maintenance of the organization over time as a lingua franca during debates. However, even as members routinely interpret policy in terms of its relationship to the maintenance of the organization, they articulate conflicting visions of this maintenance, pitting the goal of internal cohesion against external legitimacy. This article indicates under-considered functions of organizational policy stances—particularly of those that are often dismissed as purely symbolic.

Spillman, Lyn and Sorcha A. Brophy. 2018. “Professionalism as a Cultural Form: Knowledge, Craft, and Moral Agency.” Journal of Professions and Organization 5(2): 155-166. Drawing on research on business associations and physicians’ associations, we argue here for a cultural theory of professions. ‘Professions’—or professionalism—should be understood primarily as forms of cultural claims-making about work. Whether or how professionalism as claims-making results in organizational forms or professionalizing projects is an empirical question. We also argue that professional claims-making relies not only on abstract expertise, as has been emphasized in previous theories, but also on craft knowledge infused with moral agency.

Brophy, Sorcha A. 2016. “Orthodoxy as Project: Temporality and Action in an American Protestant Denomination.” Sociology of Religion 77(2):123-143. I argue that, in contrast to theories of religious orthodoxy that assume that the orthodox maintain a stable set of practices or beliefs, orthodox communities are characterized by significant ideological fragmentation and change. As a result, communities that identify as orthodox must engage in concrete practices to maintain the perception of “stable” ideological commitments. However, the insights of this research are not limited to the study of religious groups. Rather, they contribute to a larger conversation about the ways that ideological groups consciously manage internal processes in light of perceived responsibilities to maintain themselves over time.