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An amateur (French amateur "lover of", from Old French and ultimately from Latin amatorem nom. amator, "lover") is generally considered a person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science, without pay and often without formal training. An amateur receives little or irregular income from their activities, and thus differs from a professional who makes a living from the pursuit and typically has formal training and certifications in the domain. The term, deriving from words for "lover", reflects a voluntary motivation to work as a result of personal interest in the activity. As a value system, amateurism elevates things done with self-interest o for their own intrinsic value above those done for pay. The term has particular currency in its usage with regard to sports.

Amateurism can be seen in both a negative and positive light. Since amateurs often do not have formal training, some amateur work may be sub-par. For example, amateur athletes in sports such as basketball or football are not regarded as having the same level of ability as professional athletes. On the other hand an amateur may be in a position to approach a subject with an open mind (as a result of the lack of formal training) and in a financially disinterested manner.

The lack of financial recompense can also be seen as a sign of commitment to an activity; and until the 1970s the Olympic rules required that competitors be amateurs. Receiving payment to participate in an event disqualified an athlete from that event, as in the case of Jim Thorpe. In the Olympics, this rule remains in place for boxing.

Many amateurs make valuable contributions in the field of computer programming through the open source movement. Amateur dramatics is the performance of plays or musical theater, often to high standards but lacking the budgets of professional West End or Broadway performances. Astronomy, history, linguistics, and ornithology are among the myriad fields that have benefited from the activities of amateurs.

See also


  • Bourdieu, P. (1996). Photography: A Middle-Brow Art. Stanford University Press.
  • Fine, G.A. (1998) Morel Tales:. The. Culture. of. Mushrooming.. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
  • Jenkins, Henry (1992). Textual Poachers: Television Fans & Participatory Culture. Studies in culture and communication. New York: Routledge. p. 343. ISBN 0415905710.  
  • Haring, Kristen , (March, 2008). Ham Radio's Technical Culture,. The MIT Press,. ISBN 0262582767,.  
  • Stebbins, Robert A. (2007) Serious Leisure: A Perspective for Our Time. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.




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