The Representation of Professional Identity through Online Social Networking Websites

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In recent months, there has been considerable attention paid to the role of online social networking websites such as “Facebook” and “Myspace”. In particular, the media have recently reported on cases where employers and members of the public have expressed concern over the nature of images and commentary posted on “Facebook” by professionals and by professionals-in-training. Much of the concern stems from occasions when private representations are perceived to cross into the world of work (see for example Foster, 2007; Panja, 2007; Savo, 2007; Slayter, 2007). We suggest that the issue of new media and social networking are changing the way that we think about professional identity formation. We are particularly interested in exploring the question of professional identity formation of teacher candidates as demonstrated through their use of this technology. Additionally, we will discuss issues of privacy, public representations, and professional identity with respect to these emerging media. In this study we employed three compatible research methodologies: (a) case study, (b) visual sociology, and (c) sociological content analysis. The method used derives from the work of Krippendorff (2004) in sociological content analysis. Observer meaning generated by imagery is of particular interest in our study. The context of importance is the relationship between the self-declared status of a particular individuals in professional communities or students within professional colleges, and the self-declared depictions presented in proximal photographic artifacts. From a pilot study, several key themes related to online representations of behaviour have emerged. The paper we present will compare these themes with current statements around healthy and unhealthy professional behaviour and preliminary results of content analysis will be discussed.


Keywords: Professional Identity, Teacher Education, Online Social Networking
Stream: Human Technologies and Usability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. David Burgess

Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Administration, University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Burgess is Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Administration with teaching concentrations in history of organizational theory, philosophy of organization and politics of educational administration. His research program has recently culminated in two chapters to be published in forthcoming books—“Educational Policy Development in Saskatchewan 1980-2005” and “Maintaining Public Education in an Aging Society.” Burgess was formerly a consultant with the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN/NGLS) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Dr. Paul Newton

Assistant Professor, Educational Policy Studies, University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dr. Newton is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Alberta, Canada. He teaches in the area of Educational Administration and Leadership. His research interests are in the area of Teacher Professional Learning, Organizational Theory, Staff Development, the Principalship, Knowledge Management, Decision Making, and Research Utilization in Education. He has worked as an educator and school principal.

Dr. Randy Wimmer

Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies, University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


Ref: T08P0247