The sociology of the professions has shied away from cross-national comparative work. Yet research in different professional jurisdictions emphasises the transnational nature of professional fields. Further work is therefore needed that explores the extent to which transnational professional fields are characterised by unity or heterogeneity. This article presents the results of a qualitative interrogation of the habitus of partners in ‘Big 4’ professional service firms across, primarily, five countries (Bangladesh, Canada, France, Spain and the UK). Marked differences are observed between the partner habitus in Bangladesh and the rest. In Bangladesh, professional dispositions are closely intertwined with traditional public-interest conceptualisations of professionalism; in the Western countries studied, the habitus is constructed around a more entrepreneurial, profit-seeking conceptualisation of professionalism. These results lead to a view of transnational professional fields as characterised by both unity and heterogeneity, with fundamentally different habitus identifiable only in certain national business systems.
- transnational professional fields
- professional service firms
- comparative capitalism
- developed countries
- developing countries