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Vocational students' identity formation in relation to vocations in the Swedish industrial sector
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Sociology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8907-8709
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Sociology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Sociology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Sociology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Linköping University, HELIX Competence Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2486-2663
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. Vol. 9, no 2, p. 91-111
Keywords [en]
vocational education, industrial programme, vocational identity, trajectories, social categorisation
National Category
Learning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-163294DOI: 10.3384/njvet.2242-458X.199291OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-163294DiVA, id: diva2:1388379
Projects
LUT- projektetAvailable from: 2020-01-24 Created: 2020-01-24 Last updated: 2023-02-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Vocational Students’ Agency in Identity Formation as Industrial Workers
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Vocational Students’ Agency in Identity Formation as Industrial Workers
2021 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Yrkeselevers agens i identitetsformering som industriarbetare
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
Vocational education, Vocational identity, Industrial programme, Workplace- based learning, Yrkesidentitet, Yrkesutbildning, Industriprogrammet, Arbetsplatsförlagt lärande
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-175179 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-175179 (DOI)9789179296537 (ISBN)
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

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Ferm, LisaPersson-Thunqvist, DanielSvensson, LouiseGustavsson, Maria

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