Conceptualizing Journalistic Careers: Between Interpretive Community and Tribes of Professionalism

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Professionalism is a concept that centers on specialization of labor and control of occupational practice. It has traditionally been used to describe and define individuals who are affiliated with an occupational community that has managed to secure a certain measure of autonomy and jurisdiction over an area of expertise and has a claim to a public service ethos. In this review essay, we consider the changing professional status of journalism. Whether or not journalism is "truly" a profession, it is clear that a discourse of journalistic professionalism plays a crucial role in legitimizing the journalistic occupation. Consequently, this essay explores different approaches towards the professionalization of journalism and positions this discussion within two interrelated contexts: first, it investigates the ramifications of the current crisis in western news media on journalistic professionalism. Next, the essay probes the professional standing of journalism in view of the development of new digital technologies that are re-shaping essential aspects of journalistic work. We conclude that journalism has lost some of its cohesion and fragmented into tribes of professionalism practiced by a diverse set of actors.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)419-431
Number of pages13
JournalSociology Compass
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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