liu.seSearch for publications in DiVA
Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • oxford
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Vocational Students’ Agency in Identity Formation as Industrial Workers
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Sociology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2021 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Yrkeselevers agens i identitetsformering som industriarbetare (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this thesis is to contribute knowledge about vocational identity formation among students within the industrial programme in Swedish upper secondary education, with a particular focus on their workplace-based learning. To break down the aim, three research questions have been formulated and each is addressed in one or two specific articles. These questions are: (1) What learning strategies do vocational students use to become part of a work community, and how do these strategies relate to the formation of a vocational identity at the workplace? (2) How do vocational students experience their identity formation in relation to a vocation within the industrial sector? (3) How do vocational students handle the division between theoretical and practical knowledge as they learn to become skilled industrial workers? 

The thesis builds on 53 semi-structured qualitative interviews with Swedish upper secondary vocational students enrolled on the industrial programme. The interviews revolve around the students’ vocational identity formation, with a focus on their workplace-based learning. The students are between 18 and 20 years old and the majority are boys. The findings are analysed through the theoretical lens of situated learning, where identity formation is viewed as a social learning process that takes place through participation in communities of practice. In addition, the concepts of habitus, gender and social categorisation are used as analytical tools to provide a deeper understanding of issues concerning status, power and exclusion in relation to vocational identity formation. 

The findings reveal that the students’ vocational identity formation is closely connected to the social aspects of participating in workplace communities. Knowledge about the jargon and social norms of the workplace seem to be of more importance for vocational identity formation than knowledge about the concrete working tasks. The study follows the students’ vocational identity formation throughout their vocational learning trajectories, which reveal that vocational identities are formed in heterogenic ways. 

The students may adopt a committed, flexible or ambivalent approach towards industrial work. Aspects concerning agency and status seem to be crucial for the vocational identification process. The forming of a vocational identity also implies positioning oneself in the hierarchy and division between theoretical and practical knowledge, as well as between masculinity and femininity. The students appear as knowledgeable actors who are aware of the generally low status of industrial work, while simultaneously expressing a great deal of pride in relation to their intended vocations. 

In the discussion, a model of the students’ vocational identity formation is proposed to capture the interplay between collective and structural dimensions (e.g. social background, class and status hierarchies at school) and students’ agency and strategies in becoming industrial workers. 

From the findings of this thesis, three main conclusions are drawn: (1) The students form vocational identities through using vocational agency in actively developing strategies for becoming accepted in the workplace community; (2) Workplace-based learning is central for the students’ vocational identity formation, in spite of the relatively short time that the students spend there, compared to the time spent at school; (3) The students’ vocational image awareness, expressed through awareness of, and reactions to, other people’s images of their vocation, constitutes an important part of their vocational identity formation. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2021. , p. 127
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Sciences, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 807
Series
Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 228
Keywords [en]
Vocational education, Vocational identity, Industrial programme, Workplace- based learning
Keywords [sv]
Yrkesidentitet, Yrkesutbildning, Industriprogrammet, Arbetsplatsförlagt lärande
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-175179DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-175179ISBN: 9789179296537 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-175179DiVA, id: diva2:1546899
Public defence
2021-05-21, TEMCAS, T-Building, Campus Valla, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2021-04-23 Created: 2021-04-23 Last updated: 2022-04-04Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Students' strategies for learning identities as industrial workers in a Swedish upper secondary school VET programme
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Students' strategies for learning identities as industrial workers in a Swedish upper secondary school VET programme
2018 (English)In: Journal of Vocational Education and Training, ISSN 1363-6820, E-ISSN 1747-5090, Vol. 70, no 1, p. 66-84Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this article is to investigate the learning strategies vocational students use to become part of a work community, and how these strategies are related to the formation of a vocational identity at the workplace. Conducting qualitative interviews, data were collected from 44 industrial programme students from six upper secondary schools. The findings revealed five recurrent strategies used by the students for learning vocational identities as industrial workers. The students took individual responsibility for their own learning, asked questions to gain deeper vocational knowledge, searched for role models in the work community, positioned themselves as a resource to the work community, understood and used humour and jokes in order to become a member of the community. The conclusion is that the students actively develop learning strategies to adapt their behaviour to the norms and ideals of the industrial work community. In the process of develop the vocational identities as industrial workers, the students’ vocational habitus is transformed to better fit the industrial work community. The integration of the notions of agency and habitus demonstrates the dynamic nature of students’ participation in work communities; simultaneously, the students reproduce social structures that promote vocational identities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2018
Keywords
Vocational learning, apprenticeship, vocational identity, VET, students' strategies, vocational habitus
National Category
Sociology Pedagogy Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-142820 (URN)10.1080/13636820.2017.1394357 (DOI)000425778900004 ()
Available from: 2017-11-06 Created: 2017-11-06 Last updated: 2024-01-31Bibliographically approved
2. Vocational students' identity formation in relation to vocations in the Swedish industrial sector
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Vocational students' identity formation in relation to vocations in the Swedish industrial sector
2019 (English)In: Nordic Journal of Vocational Education and Training, E-ISSN 2242-458X, Vol. 9, no 2, p. 91-111Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article investigates vocational identity formation among students studying vocational education programmes that focus on vocations within Sweden’s industrial sector. The empirical material is based on twenty-eight qualitative interviews with students enrolled on industrial programmes at four upper secondary schools. Taking a situated learning perspective as our starting point, the study reveals how the students’ vocational identity formation can be understood by examining their learning trajectories, which are shaped by their social backgrounds, their perceptions of workplace-based learning and industrial vocations, and their thoughts about their vocational futures. The findings demonstrate that students’ vocational identity formation is not a single linear process. On the contrary, three learning trajectories emerged which correspond to three different student groups. The students oriented towards commitment intended to work in industrial vocations, while the students oriented towards flexibility were open to the possibility of careers outside the industrial sector, and the students oriented towards ambivalence had no obvious plans for their vocational futures. In conclusion, this article suggests that in order to better understand the formation of vocational identities, the notions of learning trajectory types and social categorisations need to be considered in greater depth and understood in relation to the upper secondary school environment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping University Electronic Press, 2019
Keywords
vocational education, industrial programme, vocational identity, trajectories, social categorisation
National Category
Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-163294 (URN)10.3384/njvet.2242-458X.199291 (DOI)
Projects
LUT- projektet
Available from: 2020-01-24 Created: 2020-01-24 Last updated: 2023-02-07Bibliographically approved
3. Vocational Students’ Ways of Handling the Academic/Vocational Divide
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Vocational Students’ Ways of Handling the Academic/Vocational Divide
2021 (English)In: International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training, ISSN 2197-8638, E-ISSN 2197-8646, International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training, Vol. 8, no 1Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: The focus of this article is on Swedish vocational students’ own thoughts about different types of knowledge and how these thoughts relate to the forming of their vocational identities. The article reports on a study which investigates how vocational students handle the division between theoretical and practical knowledge as they learn to become skilled industrial workers. Theoretical and practical knowledge are often presented as dichotomies in a hierarchy, where theoretical knowledge is more highly valued than practical knowledge. The division between theoretical and practical knowledge is known in research as "the academic/vocational divide". This divide is particularly relevant to vocational students, as they need to deal with both types of knowledge as they navigate between the contexts of school and work.

Methods: This study is part of a research project on vocational students’ learning and identity formation. The empirical material is based on qualitative interviews with 44 students enrolled on the industrial programme at Swedish upper secondary schools.

Findings: The study revealed three different ways in which vocational students handled the academic/vocational divide: Placing higher value on practical knowledge than on theoretical knowledge, reinforcing the separation between school and work, and selecting theoretical subjects as useful tools for the future. 

Conclusions: Two conclusions drawn from the study are that students are aware of the status differences and divisions between practical and theoretical knowledge, and that they handle the academic/vocational divide in an active manner. Students make choices that will help them form a vocational identity or that will give them opportunities for further education and alternative careers. This article challenges and contradicts the image of vocational students as unmotivated and unintellectual, instead portraying them as knowledgeable actors who make strategic choices for their future and are active in forming vocational identities within vocations that require deep and advanced knowledge. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
VETNET, 2021
Keywords
Vocational Identity, Industrial Programme, Academic/Vocational Divide, VET, Vocational Education and Training
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-175176 (URN)10.13152/IJRVET.8.1.1 (DOI)2-s2.0-85101416579 (Scopus ID)
Conference
2021/04/23
Available from: 2021-04-23 Created: 2021-04-23 Last updated: 2021-04-28Bibliographically approved
4. Gendered Vocational Identities – Female Students' Strategies for Identity Formation During Workplace-Based Learning in Male-Dominated Work
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Gendered Vocational Identities – Female Students' Strategies for Identity Formation During Workplace-Based Learning in Male-Dominated Work
2021 (English)In: International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training, ISSN 2197-8638, Vol. 8, no 3, p. 334-354Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: This article investigates female vocational students' strategies for becoming part of a workplace community, what these strategies are and how they are tied to the formation of vocational identities within male-dominated industrial work. Of particular interest is how female students enrolled on Swedish upper secondary industrial programmes experience workplace-based learning at industrial workplaces as part of their vocational education. The theoretical framework derives from Wenger's concept of community of practice, but his theoretical concept does not explicitly include gender dimensions. Therefore, the concept of community of practice is also combined with Paechter's assumption of gender, whereby femininity and masculinity can be considered as different communities of practice. 

Methods: The article draws on evidence from a Swedish study based on interviews with 20 female students enrolled on the industrial programme at six upper secondary schools. In this vocational programme, there is a distinct gender distribution and only a small minority of the students on the programme are girls. In the analysis, the focus is on the female students' strategies used during workplace-based learning to become part of the work community which consists almost exclusively of male workers.

Findings: The female students deliberately negotiated vocational identities as female industrial workers to become accepted in the male-dominated work community. The findings highlight three specific strategies that the female students used: Acting like gender does not matter, acting like boys (not like drama queens), and acting tough and joking around. The female students' strategies were part of – and tied to – a complex vocational identity formation process that featured contradictory requirements. By taking individual responsibility, they identified relevant information for becoming industrial workers and chose to act like boys. The female students saw no problem with being a girl, yet they struggled with implicit, diffuse and hidden gender structures and prejudices in the male-dominated industrial companies. Nevertheless, they strived for what they perceived to be an attractive vocational identity as industrial workers; it was an alternative, atypically feminine way of being that attracted the female students. 

Conclusions: The study concludes that female students mostly rely on their individual agency when interacting with others in the male-dominated workplace community. A "gendered vocational identity" is formed which shows that the identity formation of female students is a complex double process, in which vocational and gender identities are formed simultaneously and in parallel within the male-dominated workplace. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
European Research Network in Vocational Education and Training, 2021
Keywords
VET, Vocational Education and Training, Vocational Identity Formation, Gender, Student, Workplace-Based Learning
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-184147 (URN)10.13152/IJRVET.8.3.4 (DOI)2-s2.0-85123597433 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2022-04-04 Created: 2022-04-04 Last updated: 2022-04-14Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(1416 kB)1049 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 1416 kBChecksum SHA-512
2eb9cb15fd00593296e1582ee4f4bcc615662f82bc4fe8ebca641365f3d4ea8cb12d0d29ef8c9c96e9969e4372a2f5a40c10746ac3a328d65e03636ef3a501b6
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf
Order online >>

Other links

Publisher's full text

Authority records

Ferm, Lisa

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Ferm, Lisa
By organisation
Education and SociologyFaculty of Arts and Sciences
Pedagogy

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 1049 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

doi
isbn
urn-nbn

Altmetric score

doi
isbn
urn-nbn
Total: 2767 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • oxford
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf