Professional Practice as Processes of Muddling Through: a Study of Learning and Sense Making in Social Work
2015 (English)In: Vocations and Learning, ISSN 1874-785X, E-ISSN 1874-7868, Vol. 8, no 1, 95-113 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Using an ethnographic approach, the aim of this study was to explore how social workers learn and make sense of experiences in their daily practices. Five events that took place during an ordinary day of child investigation work are described and serve as the basis for the analysis. The findings imply that investigation work is largely a social rationalization process and that the interaction between different actors in work is a strategy to enhance the level of knowledge and contribute to learning among the professionals. Thus, learning is embedded in daily activities, for example, consulting colleagues, framing problems and building relationships. Furthermore, the findings suggest the possibility of assuming a contextualized view of reasoning, a so-called contextual rationality, which maintains that practitioners need to make judgments in a way that is sensitive to and relevant for their own contextualized settings. Contextual rationality is a reasonable strategy to deal with complex problems in daily practices that cannot be completely analysed or solved. Contextual rationality is thus not about accuracy, rather it engages individuals to find meaning and order in the complexity of modern organizations where norms, values and expectations provide frameworks for explanations. Besides offering an explanation for the basis of practice, the study identifies a variety of learning opportunities in everyday practice that could potentially be used in efforts to organize a more reflective practice to facilitate improved workplace learning.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2015. Vol. 8, no 1, 95-113 p.
Workplace learning, Sense making, Professional work, Contextual rationality, Evidence-based practice
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-115273DOI: 10.1007/s12186-014-9123-yISI: 000352484400005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-115273DiVA: diva2:794593