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Educate or serve: the paradox of 'professional service' and the image of the west in legitimacy battles of post-socialist advertising

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posted on 2016-02-02, 12:55 authored by Zsuzsanna Vargha
This article investigates a puzzle in the rapidly evolving profession of advertising in post-socialist Hungary: young professionals who came of age during the shift to market-driven practices want to produce advertising that is uncompromised by clients and consumers, and to educate others about western modernity. It is their older colleagues—trained during customer-hostile socialism—who emphasize that good professionals serve their clients’ needs. These unexpected generational positions show that 1) professions are more than groups expanding their jurisdiction. They are fields structured by two conflicting demands: autonomy of expertise and dependence on clients. We can explain the puzzle by noting that actors are positioning themselves on one or the other side based on their trajectory or movement in the field relative to other actors. Old and new groups vie for power in the transforming post-socialist professional field, responding to each other’s claims and vulnerabilities, exploiting the professional field’s contradictory demands on its actors. 2) The struggle is not between those who are oriented to the west and those that are not. Rather, the west is both the means and the stake of the struggle over historical continuity and professional power. Imposing a definition of the west is almost the same as imposing a definition of the profession on the field. In this historical case, “field” appears less as a stable structure based on actors’ equipment with capital, than as dynamic relations moved forward by contestation of the field’s relevant capital.

History

Citation

Theory and Society: renewal and critique in social theory, 2010, 39 (2), pp. 203-243

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/School of Management

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Theory and Society: renewal and critique in social theory

Publisher

Springer Verlag (Germany)

issn

0304-2421

eissn

1573-7853

Copyright date

2010

Available date

2016-02-02

Publisher version

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11186-009-9104-6

Language

en

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