The Evolution of Occupational Identity in Twitter Biographies


  • Xingzhi Guo Stony Brook University
  • Dakota Handzlik Stony Brook University
  • Jason J. Jones Stony Brook University
  • Steven S. Skiena Stony Brook University



Occupational identity concerns the self-image of an individual’s affinities and socioeconomic class, and directs how a person should behave in certain ways. Understanding the establishment of occupational identity is important to study work-related behaviors. However, large-scale quantitative studies of occupational identity are difficult to perform due to its indirect observable nature. But profile biographies on social media contain concise yet rich descriptions about self- identity. Analysis of these self-descriptions provides powerful insights concerning how people see themselves and how they change over time. In this paper, we present and analyze a longitudinal corpus recording the self-authored public biographies of 51.18 million Twitter users as they evolve over a six-year period from 2015-2021. In particular, we investigate the social approval (e.g., job prestige and salary) effects in how people self-disclose occupational identities, quantifying over-represented occupations as well as the occupational transitions w.r.t. job prestige over time. We show that self-reported jobs and job transitions are biased toward more prestigious occupations. We also present an intriguing case study about how self-reported jobs changed amid COVID-19 and the subsequent "Great Resignation" trend with the latest full year data in 2022. These results demonstrate that social media biographies are a rich source of data for quantitative social science studies, allowing unobtrusive observation of the intersections and transitions obtained in online self-presentation.




How to Cite

Guo, X., Handzlik, D., Jones, J. J., & Skiena, S. S. (2024). The Evolution of Occupational Identity in Twitter Biographies. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 18(1), 502-514.