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Title: Learner biographies and learning cultures : identity and apprenticeship in England and Germany
Author: Brockmann, Michaela
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 6007
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2011
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Research on school-to-work transition has commonly relied on theories of individualisation or social reproduction. Young people on vocational pathways, in particular, are often depicted as a homogenous group of 'disaffected', second-chance learners, who are passively socialised into what are perceived as low-skilled jobs, suggesting abiding identities. Studies have tended to neglect the rich biographical experiences of young people and the complexity of the processes of identity construction. This thesis presents findings from a cross-national comparative study of apprentices in retail and motor vehicle maintenance in England and Germany, using a multi-method ethnographic approach combining biographical interviews with participant observation. It explores young people's construction of their (learner) identities over time and within the two main learning sites of apprenticeship - the workplace and the college. The contrast of contexts of the two countries illuminates the ways in which structures facilitate particular patterns and processes of transition and identity formation. Drawing on Judith Butler's work on performativity and on the biographical approach of Peter Alheit, the thesis argues that young people actively perform socially recognised identities, which they interpret in the contexts of their biographical experience. Learner identities are not natural or abiding, but are formed through concrete experiences of learning and are constituted in institutional settings and foaming cultures with discursive frameworks that prioritise certain forms of knowledge. Thus, young people may reject certain types of learning and may develop alternative learning careers which they reflexively negotiate. Apprenticeship, therefore, may be a positive choice. While vocational education in England is based on the academic/vocational dichotomy and assumptions that vocational learners reject all classroom learning, apprenticeships in Germany centre on the integration of theory and practice. The learner identities of young people in the two countries reflect these different discourses.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available