342.4 Cuttings one's own path and becoming a part of something. On professional identities and fragmented working biographies

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 3:15 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Christiane SCHNELL , Institue of Social Research, University of Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany
The paper examines the development of professional identities under conditions of discontinuous working biographies. Two examples are presented, which illustrate the interplay of structural conditions, collectivity and individualism in the course of professional socialisation.

For professionals in the media sector, my first example, it is as necessary as it is also difficult to build a consistent working identity. Most professionals work for a long time in diverse projects for different employers and therefore acquire general experiences and broad qualifications. Otherwise you have to develop a unique specialized profile, to receive visibility in a highly competitive market. On this background identity building has to be understood as a process of permanent active reflexion and cutting one’s own path and becoming part of a professional community.

Doctors, who decide to work for the drug industries, which is my second example, do not have to fight with insecure existence. There functional role within a pharmaceutical company is usually fix. But they also have to build a new professional identity, which integrates the medicinal background and new managerial responsibilities. - Comparing these two empirical examples, some theoretical conclusions on professional identity building will be discussed.