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TRUTH AND THE EVOLUTION OF THE PROFESSIONS A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF TRUTH IN ADVERTISING AND TRUE AND FAIR FINANCIAL STATEMENTS IN NORTH AMERICA DURING THE PROGRESSIVE ERABoth advertisers and auditors wrestled with the truth of their text during the Progressive Era 1880-1940 Although in North America advertisers adopted truth in advertising as a theme auditors rejected true and fair as a description of financial statements Auditors instead adopted the weaker statement that financial statements were consistent with accepted accounting principles It is paradoxical that auditors compared with advertisers made the greatest progress toward professionalization during this era This article documents debates about the concept of truth in each profession during the Progressive Era and examines the professional and legal consequences of each professions engagement with truth The Progressive Era roughly the period from the depression of the late 1880s through to the late 1930s represents a period of institutional technical and social innovation During this period most developed economies made the transition from rural to urban and from agrarian to manufacturing economies It is a period when sectional interests including many of the modern professions developed The Progressive Era is particularly marked by the conjunction of scientific knowledge and traditional values It is a period when science and technology were thought capable of providing for the material wants of all and that the issue of social justice could be resolved through knowledge This conjunction provides the setting in which truth is seen as an achievable state The modern professions emerged from this milieu as occupations concerned with the moral and technical mysteries of life The exemplars of the professional model were medicine the law and teaching The successful professions lay claim to areas of expertise that were used to define what is normal or right mediating the clients individual needs and the values institutionalized in society Richardson 1997 The process of professionalization requires an occupation to legitimate its claims to status and authority An occupation
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