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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The article looks at how the mass media shape the image of the teaching community and the profession of a teacher. We approach this professional community as a corporate actor that relies on information resources to gain a public reputation that would be favorable for the community and profession. The professional community’s image, as an element of its symbolic capital, has a significant influence over its status. The presentation of the teachers’ professional project governs to what extent they will be perceived as experts and authority figures, how actively they will be involved in the discussion and practical implementation of various reforms, and, finally, whether these reforms will have a positive impact on teachers’ status and labor market position. The article cites the partial results of a British research project, titled “Status of Teachers and the Teaching Profession in England: Views from Inside and Outside” and dedicated to analyzing the education and teaching discourse in mass media. We also rely on a proprietary study on the image of teachers and the teaching profession in the Russian media discourse. The British study has uncovered that the prevalence of the administrative discourse and the presentation of the authorities as the key experts casts the image of teachers and education into a negative light. In Russia, this professional group’s image-making (online and in print) is dominated by political, legal, and administrative rhetoric. By merging the teachers’ image together with the negative aspects of education issues and the notion of professional skill loss, the authorities gain an opportunity to position themselves as the main experts on the matter and to claim that their external control functions as an entity governing the education institutions and the professional community are both necessary and beneficial. The exclusion of the teaching community from the information space of the social and education policy gives the government and political elites leeway to “privatize” the image of educational institutions and the path to their reform, stifling competitive approaches to the situation and to its development prospects. Furthermore, this hinders the positive perception of teaching as a profession and as a community.
sociology of professions, social problems, sociology of education