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The Professional Image of Graduates of English Studies of Vienna University

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Heide Pfennigbauer

The present research examines the professional image of humanists – in particular of graduates of English and American Studies of Vienna University. It presents the strategies of image management favored by individuals to construct and reconstruct their professional, gender and social identity in talk. Drawing on a systemic functional and a discourse-historical approach the analysis of thirty qualitative interviews shows that differences in coherence, form and consistency primarily relate to the perceived adequacy or inadequacy of the profession chosen. The results of this research suggest that the influence of variables such as gender, social status and personality on linguistic output is important, yet in this context not dominant.
Contents: The relationship between language and acceptability – The importance of image management – Relevant approaches to analyzing discourse in ethnographic interviews – Analysis and evaluation – Function and reform of university curricula – Suggestions for reform.