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Old 09-30-2016, 01:23 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Toronto
Posts: 17,984
I think to be truly "defunct" a profession must meet some criteria. It is actually surprisingly difficult to think up a profession no-one still does, somewhere.

1. It has to be something no longer useful, because the good or service is either no longer used, or done cheaper and better some other way.

2. That isn't enough, because there are whole categories of goods which are no longer used, but are collector's items or have some specialist interest. No one "needs" a medieval broadsword, but forging them is nonetheless an existing occupation.

3. Also, even if the good or service can be performed some cheaper way, there are whole categories of activities people do anyway, because it is fun, or because handmade has qualities superior to machine-made (so, lots of potters still exist, both as hobbyists and because there is still a market for hand-made pottery, even though machines can stamp out pots very cheaply).

4. Also, there cannot be a lot of interest in knowing how it was done. There are still people who specialize in such archaic skills as flint-knapping, just to learn more about ancient flint-knappers.

5. Thus, a good candidate for truly "defunct" professions are industrial occupations, in which laborious, dirty and/or dangerous activities have long been replaced with improvements to machinery - assuming the occupations don't still exist somewhere like North Korea.