ISA2010 Professional communities online: the case of Legalit
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ISA2010 Professional communities online: the case of Legalit

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XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology

XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology
Professional communities online: the case of Legalit

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ISA2010 Professional communities online: the case of Legalit ISA2010 Professional communities online: the case of Legalit Presentation Transcript

  • XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology Professional communities online: the case of Legalit – preliminary results – Ivana Pais – University of Brescia (pais@jus.unibs.it) Angela Palmieri – University of Calabria (angie.ap@libero.it)
  • Agenda • Theoretical background • Research questions • Empirical setting • Methodology • (Preliminary) results • Discussion • Next steps
  • Theoretical background Online Sociology professional Sociology of professions communities of new media View slide
  • Theoretical background Sociology of professions: profession as communities? A profession, as a whole, cannot be defined as 'community', unless you consider only the superior layer, for social origin and for position in the stratification. Reasons: processes of inside stratification tied to different opportunities of career, forms of exercise of the profession, specializations, professionals associations, colleagues and - particularly for the lawyers - clienteles. (Hughes 1958; Freidson 1983, 1984, 1986; Abbott 1986, 1988; Tousijn 1987; Speranza 1999) View slide
  • Theoretical background Sociology of new media: online communities • They are a way of accessing an open and frequently democratic group of peers dealing with similar knowledge issues, even if geographically distributed (Ahuja et al., 2003) • They are ‘communities’, even if virtual: sharing of common interests (Lave, Wenger 1991); sharing of a space, even if not physical; pact of trust; sense of belonging; collective identity (Rheingold 1993; Stone, 1991). • Imagined communities (Anderson, 1991) • Personalized communities embodied in me-centered networks (Wellman, 2000); privatization of sociability (Castells, 2001)
  • Research questions Online communities of practice can be considered as ‘professional communities’? RQ1. What are the distinctive characteristics of the professionals who participate? RQ2. What is their functioning logic? RQ3. Do the members develop a sense of stronger affiliation with their profession or with the community online (van Knippenberg, van Schie 2000; Levin 2005)?
  • Empirical setting • The first (and most active) Italian discussion group for jurists, founded in 1993 • In the last year, it has differentiated its online presence through various platforms: ▫ a Google Group (Legalit), opened in April 2007, 439 members; ▫ a Facebook Group (Avvocati italiani), opened in February 2009, 724 members; ▫ a LinkedIn Group (Avvocati italiani), opened in March 2009, 128 members.
  • 1200 0 1400 1600 200 400 600 800 1000 Apr 07 May 07 Jun 07 Jul 07 Aug 07 Sept 07 Oct 07 Nov 07 Dec 07 Gen 08 Feb 08 Mar 08 Apr 08 May 08 Jun 08 jul 08 Aug 08 Sept 08 Oct 08 Nov 08 dec 08 Gen 09 Feb 09 Mar 09 Apr 09 May 09 Jun 09 Jul 09 Aug 09 Sept 09 Oct 09 Nov 09 dec 09 Gen 10 Feb 10 Mar 10 Messages posted on Legalit – April 07 to June 2010 Apr 10 May 10 Jun 10
  • Methodology Case study • Semi-structured interviews to key-informants • Online questionnaire (28 May – 10 June 2010): 93 respondents out of 427 (22%). The interviewees wrote 9,828 out of 14,955 messages (66%). • Social Network Analysis (Ucinet and Netdraw) • Content Analysis (Automap and Ora)
  • (Preliminary) results RQ1. What are the distinctive characteristics of the professionals who participate? • 69% male • 49% in their 30’s, 39% - 40’s, 8% - 50’s e 4% - 60’s • self-employed (89%) and, on average, sharing office space with less than 4 colleagues • 67% deals with Civil Law; only 3% with all the other aspects (civil, criminal, business) • clients: private (53%) or small businesses (31%); yearly average 28 clients and 1.1 case per client • income: 68% less than 60K €
  • (Preliminary) results • Reason for studying Law: 29% genuine interest in the science of law, 19% to be self-employed and independent, 12% to be of help to others • 11% father already lawyer, 5% partner • Only 18% socializes with lawyers in their free-time • Only 14% is member of professional associations • 80% is victim of unethical practice • 80% professional referral system (Freidson 1960) • 48% registered with other online professional communities, 63% is gamer
  • (Preliminary) results RQ2. What are their functioning logics? • E-mail address when registering: 40% private, 40% business, 11% has only one e-mail, 9% dedicated address • How they knew about Legalit: 80% via internet , 20% word of mouth, 10% introduced directly by the administrator • 82% knew no other member when registering; 13% contacts members through e-mail; 6% has met other members
  • (Preliminary) results • Choosing a message ▫ To read: 53% because of title, 24% read all, 21% when time permits, 2% rarely ▫ To reply to: 63% topic in which they feel skilled, 15% topic of interest, 2% posted by a colleague, 20% never • Lurkers: 57% lack of time, 29% does not believe to be competent, 14% fears of making mistakes • Prerequisites for building a reputation on Legalit: technical competence (54%), accuracy of posting (39%), attention to editorial aspects (15%), charisma (13%), time on Legalit (11%), group role (6%), external crediting (5%)
  • 10 40 25 5 15 35 45 20 0 50 30 exchange of information exchange of opinion problem solving (Preliminary) results looking for collaboration looking for friendship goal result
  • 20 0 50 10 30 40 60 aspects with which I'm involved regularly questions which I only occasionally meet questions I don't deal with, but like (Preliminary) results to be informed questions regarding profession goal result
  • (Preliminary) results RQ3. Do the members develop a sense of stronger affiliation with their profession or with the community online? • Comparing competence: on average 15% feels less prepared than colleagues, 67% the same, and 18% more • Strong point: managing communication • Weak point: preparedness with regard to their specialization
  • 60% 90% 20% 80% 0% 50% 70% 10% 30% 40% 100% competition conflict helpfulness ease of reaching an agreement quick at getting information wide range of views (Preliminary) results control fun informality familiarity less same more
  • (Preliminary) results Sense of belonging 100% 80% very much 60% somewhat 40% not much 20% not at all 0% legalit italian layers legal lawyers professions
  • Discussion Sameness + sense of belonging In contrast to the profession as a whole, the online discussion group of Italian lawyers can be considered a community of professionals
  • Next steps • Social network analysis + content analysis SNA: test March 2009
  • March 2009: network by message content
  • Exchange of advice
  • Requests for collaboration
  • Legalit Group
  • Lawyers
  • Next steps Comparing: • Other platforms (Legalit in Facebook ans LinkedIn) • Other online communities (lawyers in other countries, other legal professions, other professions)
  • Professional communities online: the case of Legalit – preliminary results – Ivana Pais – University of Brescia (pais@jus.unibs.it) Angela Palmieri – University of Calabria (angie.ap@libero.it)