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Seminar – Professions in the age of emerging technologies: The case of algorithmic cooptation in dentistry

Universiteit van Amsterdam ABS

Whereas traditionally professionals used their expertise to claim control over an area of work, emerging technologies are associated with the promise of outperforming professional expertise and thus, are increasingly used to challenge professionals’ market turf. Yet, we know little about how the process of jurisdictional contest unfolds when emerging technologies are used to challenge an established profession. Building on qualitative field study in dentistry we show how over time, despite intensive efforts, the elite profession of orthodontists lost their established exclusive control over their market turf of teeth-straightening to teleorthodontics companies and dentists. Our process analysis shows how the jurisdictional contest initially centered around the outperformance claims of algorithmic technologies, but then eventually devolved into algorithms entering a “parasitic” relationship, in which technological capabilities derived a source of “living” and growth in a co-opted existing professional sub-group. Our study makes contributions to the literature on professions, algorithmic technologies, and the future of work.

REC M4.02


  • Anastasia Sergeeva (Vrije Universiteit)


Plantage Muidergracht 12,
1018 TV Amsterdam