In research on professions in the public care and health sector the issue of professional competence and knowledge is central. Discussions on tacit knowledge (Polanyi), modus 1 and 2 knowledge (Gibbons), intuitive expertise (Dreyfus), reflective practice (Schön), practical knowledge (Bourdieu), communities of practice (Wenger) have been influencing the discussion on professional development. Across the different notions there is a shared view that important parts of professional competence is part of daily practices and embedded in routines, experiences, shared repertoire, etc. NPM and neoliberalism has had an important impact on care and health work imposing demands for documentation, standardization and evaluation. These increasing demands seem to be in contrast with the tacit and embodied parts of professional competence that not easily can be documented, standardized and evaluated. It can be argued that there is a pressure on these aspects of professional competence and knowledge ultimately resulting in poorer quality of work for both employees and citizens – the exact opposite of what presumably has been the goal with the steering systems. In this paper we will discuss the case of social educators in day care centers. The paper is based on material from two research projects (Ahrenkiel et al. 2009, 2011) involving social educators and union representatives in day care institutions. We have observed everyday work activities in day care centres and various meetings involving union representatives and on this basis interviewed both social educators and union representatives. Finally, we facilitated research workshops in the projects, inspired by action research, where the focal point was the suggestions for change put forward by the social educators and union representatives themselves.
Main Research Area:
Pushing Forward the Agenda: Emerging Issues in Working Life and Learning Research, 2011