Personal Social Networks and the Cultivation of Expertise in Magic: An Interview Study
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CitationRissanen, Olli. Palonen, Tuire. Pitkänen, Petteri. Kuhn, Gustav. Hakkarainen, Kai. (2013). Personal Social Networks and the Cultivation of Expertise in Magic: An Interview Study. Vocations and Learning, 6 (3) , 347-365. 10.1007/s12186-013-9099-z.
The purpose of the present study was to examine expertise in magic by interviewing 16 prominent Finnish magicians who were identified earlier through a social network analysis of 120 Finnish magicians. A semi-structured interview was administered that addressed the participants’ histories; their relationship to magic, the nature of their expertise, the networked development of expertise, their engagement with magical expertise and their motivation for cultivating such expertise. The results indicated that expertise in magic is cultivated, to a great extent, by informal networks of expertise without formal training. The participants had become excited about magic as children and started to pursue an expertise in the field from a relatively early age (4 to 14 years). In accordance with other domains of expertise, it had taken about 10 years of cultivating skills and competencies before becoming professional in the field, with a few exceptions. Ego-centric network analyses revealed that there were three or four magicians who had significantly shaped the Finnish field of magic and affected most of the participants’ development and career. Most of the participants were clustered, forming a core of Finnish magicians, and those magicians working abroad and collaborating with international magicians were located at the periphery of the Finnish network or formed an isolated network of clusters within it.