9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN19 Sociology of Professions

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 The Formation of Professions Revisited: Emergent Professional Groups Building I, Auditório 2

The Career of Open Source Software Developers

Involvement in FLOSS (Free/ Libre Open Source Software) is an odd
object in the Information Technologies professional field, as it is
both a hobby and a professional activity, (72% of FLOSS developers
have a degree in computing, 40% are paid to contribute). We have
realized a deep inquiry on a major FLOSS community, gathering the
results of 15 long biographical interviews, an exhaustive and accurate
statistical analysis of the participation and observation of meeting.
On those elements we focused on dynamic aspects of individual
trajectories and on the notion of 'careers' (Hughes, 1937; Becker
1985), emphasizing the generational aspects and the 'turning points'
(Hughes, 1958). In doing so, we do not see involvement and motivation
as a linear one but rather as sequential (Abbott, 2001). Those
sequences, professional and personal, (end of schooling, major
professional disillusion, unemployment, first meeting with FLOSS ) are
specific points of bifurcation in the career constitution. We try to
analyse how the level of participation in those collective projects
influences and are influenced by those sequences. This observation
teaches us on the articulation and personal arbitration between
volunteer involvement and professional activity. More generally we
notice a growing adoption of FLOSS in industry, so will see how this
arbitration transforms the whole professional field of the computer