Amateurism and professionalism in work and learning

Richard Edwards (School of Education, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Publication date: 8 September 2014



This article aims to explore the concept of amateurism as a form of critique and addition to the concepts of professionalism, professional work and education.


This is a theoretically driven article based upon a review of the historical and sociological literature on amateur–professional relations in various work contexts.


While amateurism is usually conceived pejoratively, the notion of doing something “for the love of it”, even if one is not formally qualified, opens up the possibilities for conceiving new forms of work, worker and sets of working relationships based upon different conceptions of expertise. Drawing upon historical and contemporary studies of the contribution of amateurism to professional work, and exploring the role of digital technologies in enabling amateurs to contribute to forms of professional practice, the article explores some of the challenges posed for work and learning, and suggests some lines of research to be explored.


There has been little to no consideration of amateurism as a positive contribution to considerations of professional work, nor exploration of the expertise and learning of amateurs.



Edwards, R. (2014), "Amateurism and professionalism in work and learning", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 26 No. 6/7, pp. 406-417.

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