Book Chapter

Work, Subjectivity and Learning: Prospects and Issues



Fenwick T & Somerville M (2006) Work, Subjectivity and Learning: Prospects and Issues. In: Billett S, Fenwick T & Somerville M (eds.) Work, Subjectivity and Learning: Understanding Learning through Working Life. Technical and Vocational Education and Training: Issues, Concerns and Prospects, 6. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 247-265.

Work communities are powerful sites of identity, practices and knowledge systems in which individual workers' desires for recognition, competence, participation and meaning are imbricated. In the new times of increased flexibility and rapid transmission of information, people and capital through globalised networks, worker subjectivity arguably has become a primary target of work learning to ensure organisational survival. The researchers contributing to this volume have explored how particular subjectivities are constituted among these varied coordinates, and how learning processes are implicated in individuals' subjections, negotiations, assertions and shifts of subjectivity. Butler (1992:13) maintains that the `subject is neither a ground nor a product, but the permanent possibility of a certain resignifying process'. In this possibility, in this ongoing constitution, lies the agency of the subject. Subjects are intertwined with the social practice of work in which they participate and from which they learn, reflecting a complex interaction between subjects' sense of knowledge, agency and desire with their immersion in cultural images, invocations and social activities that bring forth practices of subjectivity. These shape how people engage with and make sense of what they experience and perform socially. But clearly, subjects participate in their own constitution in psychic, social and material ways, raising questions about the precise nature of agency and the possibilities of freedom.

Title of seriesTechnical and Vocational Education and Training: Issues, Concerns and Prospects
Number in series6
Publication date31/12/2006
Publisher URL
Place of publicationDordrecht

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Professor Tara Fenwick
Professor Tara Fenwick

Emeritus Professor, Education