Ian Walsh (University of Massachusetts Amhrest)

Riot on the Pitch: Image Work in the Wake of Event-Based Professional Stigmatization

  • Data: 14 gennaio 2020 dalle 13:00 alle 14:00

  • Luogo: Sala Seminari 1, dipartimento DiSA


In this paper we explore the image-based tactics employed by the members of a well-regarded profession to deal with its unexpected, event-based stigmatization. Our study of the testimony and interrogation of banking professionals during a public inquiry held following the 2008 banking crisis in Ireland reveals that they faced attacks to their business judgment, competence and morality. Professionals countered these concerns through three image-based tactics: boundary work, humanizing and affirming professional fitness. Through boundary work, professionals countered criticism of their expertise by urging that their actions should be judged according to the standards of the time, redrawing professional lines or framing the crisis as beyond their control. Affronts to morality also spurred humanization tactics through which professionals framed themselves as victims of the crisis as opposed to villains and expressed sympathy for its adverse effects. Professionals then substantiated their fitness for purpose by showcasing improvements to their conduct and arguing for their longstanding collective efficacy to avert such stigmatizing events without outside assistance. Our study offers new insights into the collective image-based tactics by which individuals respond to the unexpected stigmatization of their profession and into the important, albeit underdeveloped, complementary roles of image and identity work in the social redemption process.

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