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The vulnerability of quasi-professional experts: a study of the changing character of US airline pilots’ work

The vulnerability of quasi-professional experts: a study of the changing character of US airline pilots’ work
The vulnerability of quasi-professional experts: a study of the changing character of US airline pilots’ work
This article contributes to ‘sociology of professions’ theory through the study of changes that occurred in US airline pilots’ work. Findings reveal that airline pilots are quasi-professional experts who developed specialized skills based on talent and experience which allowed them to work autonomously and enjoy a correspondingly high sense of trust and prestige for which they were often well compensated. However, results of this study suggest high labour costs and weak professional communities leave quasi-professional experts vulnerable to managerial cost-cutting and work intensification agendas, particularly during periods of merger, downsizing and other forms of industry restructuring. Findings signal a deprofessionalization of some elite fields in which experts’ specialized skills become devalued and the industry-specific nature of their expertise reduces career options and job mobility. Although the present study identifies this trend in aviation, recent changes in a wide range of industries from healthcare to high-tech portend applicability in a variety of domains.
0143-831X
1-23
Fraher, Amy L.
5c2ad136-717b-43b1-be85-c7a970f85116
Fraher, Amy L.
5c2ad136-717b-43b1-be85-c7a970f85116

Fraher, Amy L. (2016) The vulnerability of quasi-professional experts: a study of the changing character of US airline pilots’ work. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 1-23, [0143831X1666858]. (doi:10.1177/0143831X16668580).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This article contributes to ‘sociology of professions’ theory through the study of changes that occurred in US airline pilots’ work. Findings reveal that airline pilots are quasi-professional experts who developed specialized skills based on talent and experience which allowed them to work autonomously and enjoy a correspondingly high sense of trust and prestige for which they were often well compensated. However, results of this study suggest high labour costs and weak professional communities leave quasi-professional experts vulnerable to managerial cost-cutting and work intensification agendas, particularly during periods of merger, downsizing and other forms of industry restructuring. Findings signal a deprofessionalization of some elite fields in which experts’ specialized skills become devalued and the industry-specific nature of their expertise reduces career options and job mobility. Although the present study identifies this trend in aviation, recent changes in a wide range of industries from healthcare to high-tech portend applicability in a variety of domains.

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Quasi Prof Experts 6-20-16 - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 1 October 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 4 October 2016

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 428179
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/428179
ISSN: 0143-831X
PURE UUID: b6834a72-5495-4d1a-80d1-0be9177ca636
ORCID for Amy L. Fraher: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2093-5164

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Date deposited: 13 Feb 2019 17:30
Last modified: 09 May 2020 00:45

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Author: Amy L. Fraher ORCID iD

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