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'How can we know the dancer from the dance?' Understanding professional identity formation through workplace discursive practices: a collective case study of ‘new-to-practice’ social care workers
McHugh, John
The focus of this study is on the Professional Identity Formation (PIF) of Social Care Workers. The timespan of the research coincided with the progression towards registration and regulation of Social Care as a profession in its own right in Ireland. The starting point of the study was with the lived professional experience of the workers themselves. Particular emphasis was placed on the written and verbal discursive practices encountered by, and engaged in, by the Social Care Worker. A core aim of the research was to gain a deeper understanding of how PIF occurs, and by doing so, to better understand the emerging profession at a critical time in its evolution. Under a broad Social Constructionist banner, a theoretical framework based on Rhetorical Genre Theory and Enactment Theory was constructed that informed an approach to data collection and analysis in which the voice of the worker was central. The twin-theory approach allowed deeper contextual analysis of the individual worker’s experiences. The Collective-Case Study approach facilitated a greater breadth of experiences to be included. The data-gathering instruments of ‘Conversational Interviewing’ and ‘e-Diaries’ ensured that the newly qualified workers were active participants in generating the data. The ‘within-case’ analysis emphasised the individual voice of the worker, and themes emerging there fed forward to the cross-case analysis that followed. Nvivo ™ qualitative analysis software was used to assist the analytical process. Three key themes emerged to frame the cross-case analysis: 1. Policy, power and ‘situated’ professional identity. 2. Worker Activity in context - professional identity as a socially constructed concept. 3. Workers Self Awareness - professional identity as an internalised construct. The conclusions of the research are expressed as five ‘meaningful points’ that look inward to the research data and outward towards implications for professional practice. These, in turn, find more creative expression in a ‘Professional Identity Mixing Board’, that prototypes a reflexive tool for the Social Care Worker.
Keyword(s): social care workers; professional care values
Publication Date:
Type: Doctoral thesis
Peer-Reviewed: Yes
Language(s): English
Institution: University of Limerick
Publisher(s): University of Limerick
Supervisor(s): Coughlan, Barry
First Indexed: 2016-09-11 05:27:20 Last Updated: 2016-09-11 05:27:20