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Inside the Critics' CircleBook Reviewing in Uncertain Times$
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Phillipa K. Chong

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691167466

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691167466.001.0001

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I Am Not a Critic

I Am Not a Critic

(p.101) Chapter 6 I Am Not a Critic
Inside the Critics' Circle

Phillipa K. Chong

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers how the occupational structure of reviewing (increasingly a freelance activity) may be changing how reviewers understand the meaning of reviewing as a professional activity—and why critics continue to say “yes” to reviewing given all the uncertainty they encounter. It answers the question of what the place and significance of book reviewing is in the personal and professional lives of book critics as part of their professional self-concepts and projects. The lack of formal means of demarcating who is or is not a book reviewer leaves this category of work particularly vulnerable to the legitimacy claims of “outsiders” such as amateur reviewers. But it also has implications for how critics position themselves and how critics conceptualize group “insiders.” The chapter explores the source of this lack of groupness.

Keywords:   book critics, occupational structures, professional reviewers, amateur reviewers, book reviewers, group insiders, journalism

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