Sociology Index

SYMBOLIC ANALYSTS

Symbolic analysts are those who engage in what Robert Reich calls symbolic-analytic services. Robert Reich, argues that the key "job of the future" is that of the "symbolic analyst." Symbolic-analyst is Robert Reich's third occupational category and refers to tasks such as problem-solving, problem-identification, and strategic brokerage services. Symbolic-analytic services are all those jobs which involve the manipulation of symbols. When we talk of symbolic-analyst, we are referring to a particular form of service worker, which others might call knowledge work, and knowledge economy is seen as the area of substantial growth in the developed capitalist nations of the world. Reich also believes that symbolic analyst, due to the nature of work, develop distinctive life styles and social attitudes and political belief. Thus lawyers are symbolic analysts and engineers are symbolic analysts.

The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism by Robert B. Reich
Economies are rewarding the most skilled around the world with ever greater wealth while consigning the less skilled to declining standards of living. He sees the global work forces as already divided into three groups: routine producers, in-person servers, and symbolic analysts who manipulate symbols for large profits. In 1989, these symbolic analysts comprised about one-fifth of the population of the United States, but they earned more than half the income.

“Fast-Capitalism: Paraethnography and the rise of the symbolic analyst. Douglas R. Holmes with George E. Marcus. In Frontiers of Capital: Ethnographic Perspectives on the New Economy. Melissa Fisher and Greg Downey (eds). 2006 Durham: Duke University Press. 

"You asked the question about is the knowledge worker the same as a visual intellectual. I would say no. I would say there are so many terms for that. I always like the obscure terms like symbolic analyst. Lawyers are symbolic analysts. Engineers are symbolic analysts. In other words the symbolic analyst is pretty much anybody who doesn't make his living making steel." - CADRE Invitational Transcript - Peter Lunenfeld - Switch | Journal -- Issue 18.