Understanding new hybrid professions: Bourdieu, illusio and the case of public service interpreters
Helen Colley & Frédérique Guéry
Cambridge Journal of Education
Volume 45, Issue 1, 2015
Special Issue: Evoking and Provoking Bourdieu in Educational Research
Public spending reductions across the advanced capitalist world are creating new professions that have a ‘hybrid’ status and/or role. However, research on professional learning has paid little attention to them. This qualitative study of one such profession, public service interpreting (PSI), addresses that lacuna. The paper focuses on interpreters’ interactions with other professionals and with migrants using public services. It evokes Bourdieu’s important but neglected concept of illusio – the extent to which players invest commitment in the stakes of a field – to frame the analysis. This highlights the lack of autonomy for PSI, interpreters’ own ambiguous illusio, and their conflicts with the illusio of more powerful professions with which they must work. We conclude that there is a need for more research on the power relations between new hybrid professions and established professions, and that Bourdieu’s illusio is a potent analytical concept for this task.