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Rethinking the concept of professionalism: the case of journalism

The British Journal of Sociology
Volume 54 No 4 December 2003
pages 547-564

Abstract

Journalists in the UK have always been ambivalent about what form of occupational control to pursue. Although resistant to the structures of the conventional profession, they have embraced the idea of 'professionalism'. As the formations traditionally associated with Anglo-American professions become relevant to fewer and fewer employees and increasingly subject to external regulation it is more relevant, we suggest, to investigate how the discourse of 'professionalism' as a set of values and identities can be mobilized by employers as a form of self discipline. Journalism, notable for its powerful occupational mythology, provides a vivid example of how this process has eased the imposition of radical changes to the organization of work. Now, ironically, recent changes in the occupation's social composition and training may mean that journalists, who have always cherished a self-image as socially marginal, will aspire to conventional professional respectability.

Keywords: Professions, journalism, occupational change, self-identity

Meryl Aldridge and Julia Evetts
School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham

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