“Professionalism, status strain and emotional work on three ‘edges’ of the journalistic field” - Université Paris-Est-Créteil-Val-de-Marne Access content directly
Conference Papers Year : 2018

“Professionalism, status strain and emotional work on three ‘edges’ of the journalistic field”


This special session discusses the work of journalists in situations marked by professional role conflicts and normative uncertainties. Although the information professional's job epitomises trends that mark contemporary work like the blurring of the boundary between paid and unpaid work and thus helps understand more general social mechanisms, it has been neglected as a site for study in general sociology. We seek to lift journalists' work out of journalism studies and place it in a sociology of work and professions. By looking into three different "edges" of the journalistic field - new entrants to the field (media-activists); new tasks that need doing (online discussion); new attachments experienced (crisis journalists) – we want to explore the relationship between emotional work, status strain and professional field renewal. The session is divided into four rounds, each led by a moderator and closing with a contribution from a media professional whose role is to ground the discussion in empirical experience. The first round will present the empirical studies which provide the material for discussion. Benjamin Ferron introduces his fieldwork on journalists from free/independent media in France working at the border between the journalistic and political fields and facing tensions in defining their collective identities and activities. Simon Smith, drawing on a three year ethnographic study, describes how young Slovak journalists cope with the "dirty work" of online discussion administration by inventing routines that recover some "professional purity". Johana Kotisova, based on in-depth interviews and participant observation with Belgian and Czech "crisis reporters", describes aspects of journalists' work related to their conflicting personal and professional identities, emotional labour, work-related stress and cynicism. In the second round Ferron will lead a discussion on the articulation between structural strains of the journalistic field and the division of roles between and within media organisations. How do new tasks and changes in professional jurisdiction transform the profession? How are networks of peer support structured in relation to organisational boundaries, economical and symbolic interest representation and state regulation? The third round, led by Smith, will focus on journalists' work resources, the mechanisms for learning skills, and professional socialisation. How do the specific forms of capital accumulated and converted by journalists in edge positions resemble or differ from traditional journalistic resources? How are knowledge and know-how passed on and practices evaluated as right or wrong? The fourth round, led by Kotisova, will examine media workers' identities and emotional labour, or how people, depending on their dispositions, learn to cope with their double status of observer and protagonist. What are their subjective experiences of often precarious 'creative labour' and working life quality? What happens when 'human complexity' disturbs professional routines (Abbott) but also embodied tastes? Journalism is an area of work whose professional status is often called into question, which is precisely why it merits attention from sociologists. The reconfigurations prompted by new entrants, new tasks and new attachments - to schematise the disturbances on our three "edges" - are thus particularly dramatic, but exemplify structural dynamics of change that all professions encounter


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hal-04285867 , version 1 (14-11-2023)


  • HAL Id : hal-04285867 , version 1


Benjamin Ferron, Johana Kotišová, Simon Smith. “Professionalism, status strain and emotional work on three ‘edges’ of the journalistic field”. “Work, Employment & Society”, British Sociological Association, Sep 2018, Belfast, Ireland. ⟨hal-04285867⟩


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