MetaTOC stay on top of your field, easily

Accomplishing Profession through Self‐Mockery

Symbolic Interaction

Published online on


One influential sociological approach to profession has it that a profession is something constructed by social actors themselves and that this work is performed through the swapping of atrocity stories. While atrocity stories are an important resource for constructing profession, they are not the only ones available to social actors. In this article, I draw on field work in an academic engineering research laboratory to document how social actors use self‐mockery to construct profession. They do this in five ways, including through the use of background knowledge to interpret self‐mockery, by reserving self‐mockery for specific conditions separate from conditions where engineering knowledge is put on display, by maintaining a preference for self‐presentations that exclude self‐mockery toward the speaker's self during presentations in lab meetings and lectures in courses, through the selection of locally insignificant selves for mockery, and by assembling their own accounts of self‐mockery.