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Title:Ask a librarian: The profession, professional identities, and constitutive rhetoric of librarians
Author(s):Garcia, Mattea A.
Director of Research:Lammers, John C.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Lammers, John C.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Poole, Marshall S.; Finnegan, Cara A.; Wright, Trina J.
Department / Program:Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):organizational communication
professional identity
constitutive rhetoric
Abstract:Institutions can be powerful influences on our personal and work lives and can constrain and enable our behaviors. It is through communication that institutions are created and sustained.Professions, institutionalized occupations, are one example of institutions that play an important role in organizations. Terms like profession and professional evoke certain expectations about types of work and workers. Organizational communication scholars, however, often treat professionals as non-distinct from other organizational members or uncritically employ the terms profession and professional. This study explored the meanings of profession and professional identity for librarians. Specifically, this research analyzed librarians’ rhetoric about their work. Interviews with public and academic librarians were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using modified grounded theory approaches combined with rhetorical analysis. Librarians’ rhetoric revealed insecurity about the stereotypes and misconceptions held by the public. Librarians actively defended their professional status by delineating certain activities as truly librarian and aligning their activities and professional identities with the profession of librarianship’s values and standards. By aligning their activities and professional identity with the broader practices, values, and standards of the field, professionals add meaning to their work, defend their professional status, make sense of their roles, and (re)constitute the profession. This work suggests that professional identity can be usefully seen as tied to activities as much as to social membership. The research also guides our understanding of communication’s role in creating and sustaining institutions and providing coherence and meaning to work.
Issue Date:2011-05-25
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 Mattea A. Garcia
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-25
Date Deposited:2011-05

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