Amateurism and autodidactism: a modest proposal?


Edwards R (2015) Amateurism and autodidactism: a modest proposal?. Discourse, 36 (6), pp. 868-880.

Around the globe a great emphasis has been placed upon improving public service delivery by reforming and enhancing professionalism. The impact and significance of the associated changes have been much debated with a focus on issues of de- and re-professionalisation, and demarcations of expertise and work. Professionals and professionalism remain the central focus while service users and non-professionals still tend to be positioned as ‘other': their roles tending to be taken into account, but as additional rather than essential to service provision. By contrast, this article sets out a modest proposal to consider the relational configurations of actors involved in public services drawing upon certain dynamics of amateurism. This article suggests that the dynamics of doing something ‘for the love of it', supported by the ‘passion to learn' of autodidactism, provide the basis for rethinking some of the assumptions made and issues faced when addressing the challenges of the public services. Drawing upon historical and contemporary illustrations of the contributions of amateurism to professional practice, this article argues for the need to explore possibilities beyond existing binary of professional-amateur.

amateur; professional; autodidactism; public services; relational configurations; citizen scientists

Discourse: Volume 36, Issue 6

Publication date31/12/2015
Publication date online30/04/2014
PublisherTaylor and Francis