02 SES 06 B, Workplace Learning: development of identity
Based on a current sociological research in VET schools, this presentation discusses what kinds of subjectivities retail clerk apprentices develop and how they position themselves within new “managerial” values and practices of flexibility, autonomy and creativity at work (Voss, 2002, Mercure, 2011, de Gaulejac, 2012, Du Gay, 1996).
Since the 1980s, and especially in the 90s in Switzerland, there has been a restructuring of the labor market in general, which profoundly changes the relationship of individuals to employment and occupation (Voss 2002). This is a general evolution of the labor world in recent decades, which is often referred to as the transition to a post-Fordist system of organization (Sallaz, 2015).
The VET is defined as an “arranged transition” from school education to the labour market (Chaix, 1993).Therefore, during their training, apprentices are familiarized with the economic rationales of the retail sector impacting on their working and learning experiences (Brockmann, 2013, Fuller, 2009). First, they have to stand intense working days (ex. standing most of the time, long days due to shop opening times, and multiple tasks) and flexible working times (ex. work plan changes every week). Second, they are not only perceived as apprentices expected to learn but also as productive and efficient workers, leading to an ambiguous position within the company (Cohen-Scali, 2003). Moreover, they are sometimes responsible for basic tasks and lack recognition of their capacities.
Apprentices’ discourses will be analyzed in regards to the different ways they experience the challenges and company’s expectations to fulfil demands of flexibility, autonomy, and will to professional development. Thus, beyond the companies’ expectations and the social norm of subjective involvement in work, we will reflect on the subjective place of creativity during VET education. Therefore, the notion of creativity at work (Oldham, 1996), and its place during the VET education is important. In a psycho-sociological perspective, creativity is not just finding an original way of “doing well” (Lhuilier, 2015), but rather a way of singularizing activities, and of subjectively appropriating activity and working context (various working interactions and tasks). Such subjective appropriation can be observed in three key domains: a) the interactions with clients and “esthetic” tasks, b) the working activities such as organizing and management task, c) the handling of interactions with colleagues and managers.
Brockmann, M. (2013). "Learning cultures in retail: apprenticeship, identity and emotional work in England and Germany." Journal of Education and Work. 26(4): 357-375. Chaix, M. L. (1993). Se former en alternance. Paris, L’Harmattan. Charmaz, K. 2014. Constructing Grounded Theory. Los Angeles: Sage. Cohen-Scali, V. (2003). "The influence of family, social and work socialisation on the construction of the professional identity of young adults." Journal of Career Development 29(4): 237-249. Du Gay, P. 1996. Consumption and Identity at Work. London: Sage. De Gaulejac, V. 2012. « Sciences de gestion et psychologie du travail : l’ouverture d’un débat ». Le travail humain. PUF. vol. 75, n°1. Egbringhoff, J., et al. (2003). Bildungspolitische und bildungspraktische Konsequenzen der Subjektivierung von Arbeit. Chemnitz, Institut Arbeit und Gesellschaft. Fuller, A., et al. (2009). "Learning, knowing and controlling the stock: the nature of employee discretion in a supermarket chain." Journal of Education and Work 22(2): 105-120. Glaser, B. & Strauss A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory. Chicago: Aldine. Lhuilier, D. (2015/1). « Puissance normative et créative de la vulnérabilité ». Éducation permanente. n°202. p. 101-116. Mercure, D. (2011). « Les transformations récentes du monde du travail : nouvelles logiques managériales et marché du travail ». in D. Mercure et M. Vultur. Perspectives internationales sur le travail des jeunes. Québec : presses de l’Université Laval. p. 13-30. Mercure, D., Vultur, M. (2010). La signification du travail. Nouveau modèle productif et ethos du travail au Québec. Laval : Presses de l'Université Laval. Oldham G.R., Cummings A. (1996). “Employee Creativity: Personal and Contextual Factors at Work”. The Academy of Management Journal. June 1. 39:3, 607-634. Sallaz, J. J. (2015). "Permanent Pedagogy: How Post-Fordist Firms Generate Effort but Not Consent." Work and Occupations. 42(1): 3-34. Voss, G. (2002). „Auf dem Weg zum Individualberuf? Zur Beruflichkeit des Arbeitskraftunternehmers“. In Der Beruf in der Moderne. T. Kurz. Opladen, Leske und Budrich: 287-314. Winnicott, D.W. (1971). Playing and Reality. London: Tavistock.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
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