"It Seems Like the Industry is Full of a Lack of Professionals"
: An Exploration of the Marginal Professional Identity of Voluntarily Regulated Will-Writers

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis investigates how self-regulated will-writers construct their sense of professionalism, professional work and professional identity based on the experiences and the understanding of self-regulated will-writers. Using the lens of social constructionism to inform the planning and execution of an exploratory study allowed a rich level of knowledge and understanding of how the self-regulated will-writers construct their sense of professionalism and professional identity. Literature on professionals, professional identity and professionalism and primary sourced data undertaken with will-writers assist with exploring how self-regulated will-writers can be characterised and how they should be conceptualised. The semi-structured interviews allowed for in-depth discussions with will-writers and gave room for reflection and consideration of some of the richer and more abstract concepts concerning how self-regulated will-writers construct their profession and how they create their sense of professional identity. This thesis makes two empirical contributions and one theoretical contribution to knowledge. First, there is scant literature as to the nature of the occupation of will-writing and this research provides unique insights into the character of self-regulated will-writers. Second, this thesis offers an original and distinctive way of considering how will-writers constructed and made sense of themselves as professionals and contributes to the literature on professionalism. Third, the theoretical contribution of this research shows the value of understanding self-regulated will-writers through the lens of social constructionism. This research provides an original and clear contribution to knowledge by using the research findings to offer a new understanding of professionals as having a marginal professional identity in occupations where they operate on the fringes of more established professionals. Using the knowledge and understanding of the experience and insights of self-regulated will-writers to view them as having a marginal professional identity offers a new and insightful way of thinking about members of occupations that operate on the periphery of established and traditional professions such as law and medicine.
Date of Award17 Oct 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorStephen Williams (Supervisor), Peter Scott (Supervisor) & Sarah Gilmore (Supervisor)

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