[Air-L] Reputation and professional degrees

Liz nwjerseyliz at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 5 11:52:08 PST 2010

I find this an interesting topic as someone with a first draft of her dissertation but no Ph.D. I identify myself with my academic discipline but because of professional requirements, I've had to look outside of universities for employment.

I've found that people in social networks take it on faith that I am a sociologist, albeit not a professor, which I appreciate. At least, no one has asked to see a CV. But when I first started following people on Twitter, I did a bio search for those who describe themselves as an anthropologist or sociologist and was surprised how much these titles had been appropriated by people who, as part of their job in marketing or media, try to make sense of why people act as they do. "Technology anthropologist" is one title I've seen several times by people working in social media.

In one sense, people can call themselves whatever they want. But there is a lack of self-consciousness or irony in ascribing an expertise to oneself that I think most credentialed people within those disciplines would find a surprise.

In The Long Tail, Chris Anderson discusses the cooperation & respect professional & amateur astronomers have for each others abilities and how they've come together to work on some research projects. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it's more likely that this pro-am collegiality could occur in technology & media studies than in the social sciences.

Liz Pullen
nwjerseyliz at yahoo.com

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