Vol. 13, Issue 1, 2024

Guest-edited by Minna Ruokonen, Elin Svahn and Anu Heino

Translators’ and interpreters’ job satisfaction: Conceptual, empirical, methodological, and ethical considerations

Research on translators’ and interpreters’ experiences of their work highlights a paradox: translators and interpreters are often highly satisfied with their work, yet less so with their professional status and working conditions (e.g. AIIC 2002, Katan 2009, Svahn 2020). Delving into the causes and consequences of this paradox, this special issue addresses translators’ and interpreters’ job satisfaction as a multifaceted, interdisciplinary phenomenon that can serve as a bridge between research and the T/I profession.

Job satisfaction, or pleasurable or positive emotions concerning one’s work, has been extensively studied within job and organizational psychology (Spector 1997). Within translation and interpreting research, related concepts such as stress and motivation have been addressed since the 1980s (e.g. Cooper et al. 1982, de Jong 1999). However, studies focusing on job satisfaction mostly date from the 2010s (e.g. Bednárová-Gibova 2021, Lee 2017, Liu 2013, Rodríguez-Castro 2016), and job satisfaction is not mentioned in even some recent reviews on translation psychology (Jääskeläinen 2016[2012], Zhu 2020). Nevertheless, translators and interpreters’ job satisfaction deserves more attention due to both academic and professional considerations.

Academically, job satisfaction is a multi-dimensional phenomenon that is, on the one hand, connected to psychological aspects such as motivation, affect, stress, emotional intelligence and self-efficacy (e.g. Atkinson 2012, Courtney & Phelan 2019, de Jong 1999, Hubscher-Davidson 2017, Koskinen 2020). On the other hand, job satisfaction is rooted in sociological and ergonomic aspects, including relationships with colleagues and clients, the organisation of work (job security, autonomy, processes), as well as the physical environment and tools (e.g. AIIC 2002, Ehrensberger-Dow et al. 2016, Leblanc 2017, Lee 2017, Liu 2013, Piecychna 2019, Swartz 1999, Virtanen 2019). This convergence makes job satisfaction a prime example of a multi-disciplinary phenomenon studied by means of a variety of theories and methods; it can also be fruitful to revisit data collected for other purposes from the perspective of job satisfaction (Dam & Zethsen 2016, Ruokonen et al. 2020).

From a professional perspective, job satisfaction is a burning issue, to both individual translators/interpreters and the industry as a whole: satisfied employees are more committed and more willing to take on new challenges (Hora et al. 2018). Yet currently, while translators and interpreters are happy with the creative and varied nature of their work, they are also critical of their working conditions (e.g. Heino 2020, Martikainen et al. 2018, Moorkens 2020, Rodríguez-Castro 2016). What with the rapidly evolving practices of the industry, investigating how to enhance translators’ and interpreters’ job satisfaction and commitment is vital for the future of the profession.

We are calling for contributions to this first edited volume exploring translators’ and interpreters’ job satisfaction from different perspectives, such as:

− Conceptual:
• What does translators’/interpreters’ job satisfaction involve as a phenomenon?
• Which aspects are (not) covered by the psychological, sociological, and ergonomic approaches? Are new approaches or more multidisciplinarity needed?

− Empirical:
• What do we know and do not yet know about translators’/interpreters’ job satisfaction? What differences emerge between translators and interpreters working in different settings?
• How does job satisfaction correlate with translators’ and interpreters’ backgrounds (gender, education etc.), the nature and organisation of their work and other factors?
• What kinds of consequences does job (dis)satisfaction have for translators and interpreters, for the industry, for clients and other stakeholders?

− Methodological:
• What methods have (not) been used?
• What can different methods of data collection (surveys, interviews, screen/video recordings, ethnography) and analysis (statistical analyses, content analysis, narrative analysis etc.) tell about translators’/interpreters’ job satisfaction?
• What blind spots should be addressed? How can action research approach job satisfaction?

− Ethical:
• What are the ethical implications of job satisfaction research for individual translators/interpreters, the industry and for the clients? What can and should be done about translators’/interpreters’ job satisfaction and by whom?
• How should translators’/interpreters’ job satisfaction and the factors affecting it be addressed in the T/I education? 

For more details, including the publication schedule, visit: https://benjamins.com/series/ts/ts_cfp.pdf