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Title: The way of the smoke eater : rethinking firefighter culture in the field of structural fire protection
Author: Hinds-Aldrich, Matthew I.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2747 3668
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2012
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Firefighters occupy a special place in modern society. The fire service provides a rich cultural script to understand how firefighters, like other workers in dangerous occupations, organise themselves as well as derive meaning from their work. One conclusion that emerges regularly in this literature is that firefighters tend to share a distinctive firefighter culture that binds firefighters to one another and makes their work meaningful. Yet in practice this concept proves exceedingly difficult to empirically or even theoretically explain. Here I critique the traditional concept of firefighter culture arguing that it is a myth. I draw heavily upon Pierre Bourdieu's Field Analytic Perspective to provide an alternative explanation for the underlying organisational and interpersonal dynamics observed in fire departments. Accordingly, I argue that what is often referred to, as "firefighter culture" is simply the most visible manifestation of the competitive struggle to monopolise control of the profession, police its boundaries and maintain legitimacy in the field of structural fire protection. This boundary-work suggests that we should reconceptualisefirefighter cultures as imagined moral communities, as they are necessarily fluid and contextual.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available