This article examines the role professionals can play in expanding the concept and practice of democracy. It argues that the ways professionals are usually socialized to understand their work identities and practices displace or even suppress the popular agency of lay citizens and this has contributed significantly to the shrinking of democracy, since professionals play outsized roles in shaping the institutions of today's knowledge societies. Professionals' transformation into citizens who catalyze citizen energies and talents and work as citizens with other citizens is key to broadening the role of citizens from voters and volunteers, to co-creators and civic producers who are responsible for a democratic way of life. Beginning with a discussion of ways in which the “technocratic paradigm” has detached institutions and professional practices and identities from civic and community life and shrunk understandings of democracy, the article examines traditions of public work and citizen professionalism in America, which are important to recall and translate to new circumstances. It presents several case studies and concludes with suggestions of citizen professionalism as a new frontier for higher education and democracy.

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