Creating Definition / Building a Profession

In exchange for the formal sanctioning of the community, the profession and the professional accept the role of protector of the public good in relationship to the professional practice. Through their expert opinions, professionals create definition and ethical structure to safeguard the public. To some extent, definition serves to create boundaries within society for a profession. It also creates a niche of expertise unique from all others.

Kunz, Kevin and Kunz, Barbara, Reflexions, Vol. 18, No. 3, Summer/Fall 1997, p. 1

Example: Defining Reflexology in the US

The process of defining reflexology in the US began in 1982, following the conviction of an Illinois reflexologist for practicing medicine and podiatry without a license. In response, Kunz and Kunz researched the issue of professional reflexology practice. Specific concerns included (1) an attorney's opinion that reflexology could not be practiced legally subsequent to the decision and (2) increasing questions about the differences, if any, between reflexology practice and massage practice. A definition was created following a review of written works and reflexology practices in the US by Kunz and Kunz. See below.


In 1989, definitions were created during peer group discussions of the Foot Work Categorization System (FWCS). The goal of the group discussions was to create a "city hall" definition of reflexology -- a generic definition that could be utilized to describe reflexology to government officials. The net result would encapsulate: (1) a description of reflexology practice, (2) the differences between reflexology and massage practices, and (3) inherent safety of reflexology practice. The bottom line would be a description of (1) what the consumer could expect in the purchase of reflexology service and (2) what a city inspector, if any, would see if he or she walked into a reflexology workplace. (Reflexologists in Chicago and Colorado Springs are subject to the no-knock inspections required of massage practitioners.)

Regulatory Issues - 30 MARCH 1999

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