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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

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.

Details

Original languageEnglish
JournalEconomic and Industrial Democracy
Early online date4 Oct 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Oct 2016

Keywords

  • Airline pilots, deprofessionalization, sociology of professions, work intensification