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Work transitions as told: a narrative approach to biographical learning
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Sociology. Linköping University, HELIX Vinn Excellence Centre. Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Work and Working Life. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Health and Society. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3033-9879
2013 (English)In: Studies in Continuing Education, ISSN 0158-037X, E-ISSN 1470-126X, Vol. 35, no 1, 1-16 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article, we introduce a narrative approach to biographical learning; that is, an approach that considers autobiographical storytelling as a practice through which claims about life history are performed and negotiated. Using insights from narrative theory, we highlight evaluations in those narratives and suggest their crucial role in promoting self-reflective thought. The research area is unemployment, more specifically, work transitions following company restructuring and redundancy supported by outplacement services. Recognizing the learning potential in autobiographical storytelling, the article examines job-loss narratives told by people made redundant. The analysis focuses on strategies used in moments of evaluation. Our findings point to a variety of rhetorical strategies, different kinds of reflexivity and, in turn, variation in the potential for biographical learning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2013. Vol. 35, no 1, 1-16 p.
Keyword [en]
biographical learning, work transitions, narrative, job loss, outplacement
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-76636DOI: 10.1080/0158037X.2012.712037ISI: 000315190500001OAI: diva2:515470
Available from: 2012-04-13 Created: 2012-04-13 Last updated: 2015-11-30Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Work Transitions as Biographical Learning: Exploring the Dynamics of Job Loss
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Work Transitions as Biographical Learning: Exploring the Dynamics of Job Loss
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In recent years, researchers have pointed out that individuals understand their lives to a great extent through narratives and narration. In the field of adult education this idea has been taken up for instance in the concept of biographical learning. This thesis discusses the concept of biographical learning in relation to a research project on job loss in mid-life, as it is experienced and handled by whitecollar workers in a Swedish context. While much of the previous research on job loss and unemployment has focused on causes and effects, coping strategies and job search behaviour, this study suggests that an enforced work transition can be thought of as a biographical learning process.

It also suggests that a greater diversity in the learning concept can be attained by reconsidering the concept in the framework of a pragmatist’s view of action. Analysing narrative interviews with white-collar workers (n=23), the study finds diversity in biographical learning with respect to the relative weights and characters of creative action and reflexive identity work. Individual’s variety of engagement in a work transition has also been understood by theoretically describing the process as structured by particular choice junctures. The study finds that a job loss during particular circumstances furthers reconsiderations, novel career decisions and ‘horizontal’ career moves.

Being a central part of biographical learning, reflexivity is used in moments of evaluation, when people tell stories about the transition. It should be discussed in the plural, as the variety of evaluations implies a variety of reflexive efforts. Furthermore, it emphasizes that a work transition is a relational project, pointing out the significance of strong ties and formal ties to people who consider ‘horizontal’ career moves during a work transition. Altogether, this suggests that practical, existential, rhetorical as well as relational issues are involved in work transitions and biographical learning. Keywords: biographical learning, work transition, job loss, adult learning, adult education, outplacement counselling.

Abstract [sv]

På senare år har betydelsen av berättelser och berättande framhållits av samhällsvetare från olika discipliner. Inom pedagogisk och utbildningssociologisk forskning har exempelvis begreppet biografisk lärande tagits i bruk för att visa hur människor tolkar, förstår och skapar mening i sina biografier genom självbiografiskt berättande. Denna avhandling diskuterar begreppet biografiskt lärande i relation till ett forskningsprojekt om omställningsprocesser efter uppsägning bland privat- och statsanställda tjänstemän. Medan tidigare forskning om uppsägning och arbetslöshet framför allt har intresserat sig för orsaker, effekter, copingprocesser och hur människor går till väga för att söka arbete, föreslås i denna avhandling att omställningsprocesser kan teoretisk förstås i termer av biografiskt lärande.

I avhandlingen placeras begreppet i en handlingsteoretisk ram och utrymme skapas som gör det möjligt att tala om olika former av biografiskt lärande. Genom analys av narrativa intervjuer med personer som blivit uppsagda (n=23) föreslås att denna variation bland annat handlar om i vilken utsträckning och på vilket sätt människor engagerar sig i reflexivitet och kreativt handlande. Analysen visar också att variationen kan förstås med hänvisning till att människor under en omställning ställs inför vissa valsituationer och i samband därmed gör olika val. Studien visar att en uppsägning, under vissa betingelser, medverkar till kritisk reflektion och ”horisontella” karriärsteg.

Avhandlingen diskuterar även begreppet reflexivitet som alltså är centralt för biografiskt lärande. I studien föreslås att reflexivitet bland annat utövas genom berättande, i det specifika moment då evaluering av det som berättelsen handlar om äger rum. Eftersom evaluering genomförs på olika sätt, bör man tala om reflexivitet i pluralis. Slutligen framhålls att omställning är en relationell process och att formella så väl som nära relationer har stor betydelse när människor överväger ”horisontella” karriärsteg. Nyckelord: biografiskt lärande, omställning, uppsägning, vuxnas lärande, vuxenutbildning, karriärvägledning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2012. 90 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 553Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 163
National Category
Social Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-76638 (URN)978-91-7519-895-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-05-11, I 101, Hus I, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2012-04-13 Created: 2012-04-13 Last updated: 2013-09-04Bibliographically approved

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Hallqvist, AndersHydén, Lars-Christer
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Education and SociologyHELIX Vinn Excellence CentreWork and Working LifeFaculty of Educational SciencesHealth and SocietyFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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