By definition, a profession is a group practicing a common craft; it is usually identified by an association of members. The association attempts to raise the standards of competence by acting as a national interest group, through an examination system, or through nominations to a diploma; but it is also intimately affected by questions that touch upon members' livelihood or the practice of their skill. The relative importance of these two functions-regu­ lation of standards and protection of interests-has a crucial effect on the association's structure. Usually a profession is governed by an oligarchy and represented by a democracy. The first, an exclusive body with competitive entry, dictates standards of skill and codes of behavior. The second is an open association with more material aspirations; it ensures the strength of the profession in agreements with outside bodies and may establish rules to protect each person in the profession from unfair practices by others. Here an advantage lies in an inclusive membership, for the greater the num­ ber of members, the larger the association's sphere of influence. The Royal Colleges represent the oligarchic function, the British Medical Association the democratic.