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The Dynamics of Professional Identity Formation: Graduates’ Transitions from Higher Education to Working Life
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Studies in Adult, Popular and Higher Education. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2009 (English)In: Vocations and Learning, ISSN 1874-785X, Vol. 2, no 1, 1-18 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper explores the development of professional identity as arelationship between professional and personal aspects of life. The focus is onstudent and novice professional psychologists’ and political scientists’ processes ofprofessional identity formation in their transition from higher education to workinglife. Drawing on Wenger’s theory of nexus of multimembership (1998), the findingsindicate that professional identity is a dynamic relationship between different lifespheres rather than an isolated phenomenon only taking place at the university or inthe work context. The analysis yielded three different forms of professional identity,non-differentiated identity, compartmentalised identity and integrated identity, whichexemplify different negotiated relationships between professional, personal andprivate life spheres. The findings show that these three forms of professionalidentities are sequential, from an individual focus to more relational and integratedways of reasoning about one’s profession. It is through the negotiations betweenpersonal and socially derived imperatives that identity formation progressesthroughout working lives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer , 2009. Vol. 2, no 1, 1-18 p.
Keyword [en]
Professional identity formation, Higher education, Working life, Longitudinal study
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-16810DOI: 10.1007/s12186-008-9014-1OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-16810DiVA: diva2:174200
Available from: 2009-02-19 Created: 2009-02-19 Last updated: 2009-05-11
In thesis
1. Becoming a professional: A longitudinal study of graduates'  professional trajectories from higher education to working life
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Becoming a professional: A longitudinal study of graduates'  professional trajectories from higher education to working life
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Att bli professionell : En longitudinell studie om akademikers professionella bana från högre utbildning till arbetsliv
Abstract [en]

Syftet med avhandlingen är att beskriva akademikers bana mot att bli professionella då de kommer ut i arbetslivet med en magisterexamen i psykologi eller statsvetenskap.

The study has a longitudinal design where Political Science and Psychology graduates’ have been interviewed on three consecutive occasions; the last semester before graduation, the first year and then, in the third year of professional work. The theoretical frame of reference comprises a situated and social learning theory and a gender perspective. These theories were chosen since they elaborate on concepts such as identity, practice, participation and learning.

The results indicate that becoming a professional is not an isolated phenomenon merely learned and nurtured in higher education and/or in working life. It is emphasised as a dynamic learning process between a reflective individual, the interaction with a professional practice as well as a relationship between other spheres of life, e.g. the personal and the private. The graduates’ professional trajectories can be characterised by a movement from appropriating new knowledge to a need to change direction, e.g. new work tasks or professional fields. This is also a process of professional identity formation. The graduates’ professional identity is emphasised as being both closely related to a gender identity and influenced by the individuals’ belonging to and participation in other practices. The results thus indicate that professional identity formation is an interplay between different spheres of life that changes over time. By using a longitudinal design, it can be claimed that becoming a professional requires balancing one’s whole life situation.

Abstract [sv]

Syftet med avhandlingen är att beskriva akademikers bana mot att bli professionella då de kommer ut i arbetslivet med en magisterexamen i psykologi eller statsvetenskap.

Avhandlingen baserar sig på en longitudinell studie där statsvetare och psykologer har blivit intervjuade vid tre olika tillfällen; sista terminen innan examen samt efter första och tredje året i arbetslivet.

Den teoretiska referensramen utgörs av begrepp från situerat och social lärteori samt från ett genusperspektiv. Dessa teorier valdes då de fokuserar på begreppen identitet, praktik, deltagande och lärande.Resultaten visar att utvecklingen mot att bli professionell inte är ett isolerat fenomen förvärvat och underhållet i högre utbildning och/eller arbetslivet. Det uttrycks snarare som en dynamisk lärprocess mellan en reflekterande individ, interaktion med en professionell praktik samt med olika sfärer i livet, den professionella, den personliga och den privata. Akademikernas professionella bana kan karakteriseras som en rörelse mellan att utveckla ny kunskap och göra den till sin, till ett behov av förändring i form av nya arbetsuppgifter eller byte av professionellt fält. Att bli professionell innebär även en utveckling av en professionell identitet. Statsvetarnas och psykologernas professionella identitet skapas i relation till en genusidentitet och är influerad av individernas tillhörighet och medverkan i olika praktiker. Resultatet visar därför utveckling av professionell identitet som ett samspel mellan olika sfärer i livet som är föränderligt över tid. Utifrån den utförda longitudinella studien är det möjligt att hävda att utvecklingen mot att bli professionell är ett sätt att skapa ett samspel och balans i individens livssituation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2009. 89 + papers 1-4 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 140
Keyword
longitudinal study, qualitative analysis, profesional development, identity, employability, higher education, work life, community of practice, gender, Longitudinell studie, kvalitativ analys, professionell utveckling, identitet, anställningsbarhet, högre utbildning, arbetsliv, praktikgemenskap, genus
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-16940 (URN)978-91-7393-691-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-03-27, Eklundska salen (I:101), Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:30 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2009-02-25 Created: 2009-02-25 Last updated: 2014-09-30Bibliographically approved

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