"Being" or "Doing" a Profession: Work as a Matter of Social Identity

By Ylva Ulfsdotter Eriksson and Malin Linde.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies

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Occupations are a basic unit for categorizing people: One of the first questions we ask a new acquaintance is, “What do you do?” Occupations are closely related to social identity. But occupational identity has been questioned by researchers who claim that nowadays people no longer identify with their occupations making the concept outdated. This article explores whether people express occupational identity. Using quantitative data we analyze how people talk about their occupations in self-presentations. The findings suggest that occupation still defines social identity – especially for incumbents with a defined education, a high-status occupation, in a profession, or in an occupation with a strong cultural framing.

Keywords: Social Identity, Occupational Identity, Occupational Prestige

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, Volume 8, Issue 1, June 2014, pp.33-43. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 525.715KB).

Dr. Ylva Ulfsdotter Eriksson

Lecturer, Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

Ylva Ulfsdotter Eriksson, Ph.D, is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Sociology and Work Science at University of Gothenburg. Ylva has an interest in the sociology of occupations and professions, as well as in gender studies.

Malin Linde

Career Counselor, Research Assistant, Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Västra Götaland, Sweden

Malin Linde, MS in Sociology, currently work as a career counselor at the department of Sociology and Work Science. She has participated in a research project on occupations led by Ulfsdotter Eriksson.