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Title: From legitimate peripheral participation to full participation? : investigating the career paths of mature physiotherapy students in a context of changing NHS employment opportunities
Author: Dawson, Daphne C. E.
Awarding Body: Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2013
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This research investigates the experiences of 18 mature career-changing physiotherapists over the first three years of belonging to their new profession, employing and critiquing Lave and Wenger’s (1991) theory of community of practice in so doing. Such newcomers to a profession bring with them social and cultural capital which can impact upon the new workplace and their progress within it, as might their biographies, atypical for their chosen profession. Very little has been written about the effect of importing people experienced in another occupation into a profession. This leaves an empirical and theoretical gap to be explored regarding both the effect on the individuals and on the practice of the communities they join. No-one has considered what might be involved in what amounts to identity re-construction in the new career, and what impact the employment context (possibly unstable or fluctuating) might have on the process. Annual semi-structured interviews were chosen as the appropriate mode of generating data from the main respondents, augmented by single interviews with six physiotherapy managers and four established clinicians to provide additional necessary context. The recorded transcripts were analysed using brief interviewee narratives, pro formas and reflective questions. It was found that previous experience, including upbringing and habitus, were particularly influential in these newcomers’ progress, and individuals may be beginning to self-manage their careers, a practice which questions and adds to Lave and Wenger’s (1991) theory of legitimate peripheral participation. Other elements that contradicted community of practice theory included the fact that it was with patients and their carers that social interaction leading to learning occurred most, and it was often to this client group that practitioners felt loyalty and a sense of belonging, rather than to any community of fellow practitioners. Also solo workers are often isolated from the newcomer and cannot pass on their learning as Lave and Wenger (1991) suggest. Full participation was found to be difficult to define, equating with proficiency rather than expertise. The thesis as a whole gives some indication of the way in which a profession’s traditions may be changing with respect to widening participation and the problems of a context of fractured and uncertain employment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available