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Det sitter inte i väggarna: Yrkesidentiteter i lärares berättelser om skola och arbete
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Education, Department of Education.
2012 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
It is not in the walls : Professional identities in teachers' stories about school and work (English)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation deals with the changing conditions for schools and the teaching profession from a teachers’ perspective. The process of the global restructuring of national educational systems that gained momentum in Sweden in the 1990s, involved the introduction of a school voucher system, competition mechanisms and the decentralization of responsibilities to schools and teachers.  The aim of this dissertation is to examine teachers’ professional identities in relation to changes in local and global conditions for schools and the teaching profession.

    Empirically, this study is anchored in 15 life history interviews conducted with eight teachers who have been working at the same secondary school in a Swedish mid-sized town. The school opened in 1965 in a residential area and closed down 2007 facing difficulties in attracting students. The teachers’ professional identities are analyzed in terms of identity performances, that is, the socially situated actions embedded in the stories and the interviews, in which they express and negotiate who they are or would like to be as a teacher. Methodologically this study contributes to a new way of investigating the relation between local school contexts and teacher identities by analyzing the institutional memories of a school.

    Results show that educational restructuring in this local school context entailed shifts in the meanings of previously known social relationships and phenomena, such as the school’s mixed student base, reputation and forms of cooperation, and that the local press became an important actor when market mechanisms were introduced. The study highlights the complexity and variability when professional identities take shape in the teachers’ stories. Some features of the professional identities focused on in this study appear to be relatively stable, while others appear to be more varying. Self biographical factors, culturally available narratives of the teaching profession, as well as local factors tend to have a stabilizing effect on the identities shaped in the stories. However, diverse professional aims, life events and changing working conditions contribute to changes in the identity constructions. In the analysis of the institutional memories presented in the thesis, it is evident that identity performances are shaped in the teachers’ retellings of those memories. In different teachers’ versions of institutional memories, identity performances that stress e.g. the importance of discipline in school and opposition to women’s subordination are shaped.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2012. , 332 p.
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2012:1
Keyword [en]
Teacher, Professional identity, Identity performance, School, Institutional memory, Life history, Educational restructuring
Keyword [sv]
Lärare, Yrkesidentitet, Profession, Skola, Livsberättelse, Utbildningspolitik, Reformer, Institutionella minnen
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
Educational Work
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-8955ISBN: 978-91-7063-405-5OAI: diva2:471183
Public defence
2012-02-17, Nyqvistsalen (9 C 203), Universitetsgatan 2, Karlstad, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2012-01-26 Created: 2011-12-15 Last updated: 2012-01-26Bibliographically approved

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Löfgren, Håkan
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