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Educate or serve: the paradox of “professional service” and the image of the west in legitimacy battles of post-socialist advertising

By Zsuzsanna Vargha

Abstract

This article investigates a puzzle in the rapidly evolving profession of advertising in post-socialist Hungary: young professionals who came of age during the shift to market-driven practices want to produce advertising that is uncompromised by clients and consumers, and to educate others about western modernity. It is their older colleagues—trained during customer-hostile socialism—who emphasize that good professionals serve their clients’ needs. These unexpected generational positions show that 1) professions are more than groups expanding their jurisdiction. They are fields structured by two conflicting demands: autonomy of expertise and dependence on clients. We can explain the puzzle by noting that actors are positioning themselves on one or the other side based on their trajectory or movement in the field relative to other actors. Old and new groups vie for power in the transforming post-socialist professional field, responding to each other’s claims and vulnerabilities, exploiting the professional field’s contradictory demands on its actors. 2) The struggle is not between those who are oriented to the west and those that are not. Rather, the west is both the means and the stake of the struggle over historical continuity and professional power. Imposing a definition of the west is almost the same as imposing a definition of the profession on the field. In this historical case, “field” appears less as a stable structure based on actors’ equipment with capital, than as dynamic relations moved forward by contestation of the field’s relevant capital

Topics: DJK Eastern Europe, HF Commerce, HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform, HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1007/s11186-009-9104-6
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lse.ac.uk:36841
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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