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An amateur is generally considered a person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science, without formal training or pay. An amateur receives little or irregular income from their activities, and differs from a professional who makes a living from the pursuit and typically has some formal training and certifications in the domain. Translated from its French origin to the English "lover", the term "amateur" reflects a voluntary motivation to work as a result of personal interest in the activity.

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 Endmarker or Broadwaymarker 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
  • {{Cite book
address = Cambridge, MA,
author = Haring, Kristen ,
howpublished = Paperback,
isbn = 0262582767,
keywords = {hams, informal, learning, radio, spot-on-project, tinkering},
month = March,
publisher = The MIT Press,
title = Ham Radio's Technical Culture,
year = 2008}}

  • Stebbins, Robert A. (2007) Serious Leisure: A Perspective for Our Time. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.


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