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Title: Where actions speak louder than words : the experience of trainee cooks on work placement in Singapore
Author: Yen-ning, Pang
ISNI:       0000 0004 5348 0837
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2014
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The aim of this research is to illuminate the experience of vocational trainees, specifically trainee cooks, on work placement. Previous ethnographic research in vocational education has tended to converge on sociologically oriented concerns and link the provision of vocational education to the reproduction of social classes. This provided a rich but nonetheless limited understanding of the student experience in this education sector. Professional socialisation studies typically focused on students in higher education and newcomers working in white-collar settings; few studies were carried out with individuals joining vocational trades. Moreover non-sociological studies rarely involved participant observation in data collection and non-linguistic studies rarely emphasised local interactions and verbal exchanges between participants. Studies in blue-collar settings are equally rare. Through a linguistic ethnographic approach, this research offers a detailed picture of the everyday experience of trainee cooks on work placement in professional kitchens. Data was collected through participant observation, fieldnotes, interviews and audio-recordings over a 16-week period involving more than 550 hours in nine professional kitchens. Constituted by physical action, kitchen work involved extensive engagement in doing and for trainees in particular, watching. Doing involved engagement in assigned tasks and working in the capacity of specific workers at their stations, here described as ‘doing Nellie’s work’. Watching was mandated by workers, treated as a mode of learning and gave trainees a legitimate presence in the kitchens. A third action termed as origination was also uncovered in this context. Origination is a self-directed voluntary action of bringing about work, carrying it out and contributing purposefully to work situations. Constituted by physical actions and the general physicality of work, task performance involved verbal interactions that were often minimal. Occasions of extended talk however showed the construction of particular relationships. These extended interactions provided important learning opportunities. The study supports, reinforces and extends findings in workplace research. It also makes a theoretical contribution through the concepts of origination and legitimate presence, and illustrates the use of a linguistic-ethnographic approach in a minimal talk context. Its outcomes are useful for understanding the nature of work/learning at work placement and offer practical insights of value to professionals involved in work preparation programmes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: P Philology. Linguistics ; TX Home economics