Middling-status profession, high-status work: Finnish translators’ status perceptions in the light of their backgrounds, working conditions and job satisfaction

Minna Ruokonen, Jukka Mäkisalo


This article explores how Finnish professional translators perceive the status of the profession in general as opposed to the status of their own work, and how these status perceptions are affected by various factors. We first consider the multiple meanings of status, summarize previous empirical research and introduce the Finnish context, and then go on to statistically analyze survey data consisting of Finnish business, literary and audiovisual translators’ responses (n=450). The analysis reveals that the respondents rank translator status in general as middling (as in previous research) but, at the same time, see the status of their own work as high. Further analysis indicates that while status perceptions of the profession in general are mostly not linked to the respondents’ working conditions or job satisfaction, perceptions of the status of one’s own work fluctuate more. Interestingly, the respondents’ backgrounds and qualifications fail to produce statistically significant differences. Moreover, the role of some factors varies among business, literary and audiovisual translators. Distinguishing between the status of the profession in general and the status of the respondents’ work thus appears to be important for a better understanding of status and may even partly explain why a middling-status profession nevertheless fosters satisfied translators. 



Status, prestige, working conditions, job satisfaction, professional translators

Full Text: PDF