Book Chapter

Escaping/becoming subjects: Learning to work the boundaries in boundaryless work



Fenwick T (2006) Escaping/becoming subjects: Learning to work the boundaries in boundaryless work. 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. 21-36.

This chapter explores the learning processes by which people come both to recognise and constitute their subjectivities at work. Subjectivity is realised through enactment: articulations meshed with the boundaries defining the conditions, activities, geographic locations and positions that they find themselves negotiating in different work environments. Always, subjectivity is produced by power and acted on by power. And usually the subject exercises power, sometimes to resist the very power that is shaping it, but always from within the socio-psychic forces and resources that constitute it. Agency, it is argued here, is articulated in the subject's recognition of both the processes of its own constitution, and of the resources within these processes through which alternate readings and constitutions are tivity, agency finds openings for resistance and subversion of these discourses. In this chapter, the focus is upon so-called ‘boundaryless workers', those relying for their income upon a series of contracts with different employers. Drawing from a study of professional workers (nurses and adult educators) in boundaryless employment, the chapter examines their dual movements of constituting subjectivity through both lines of anchorage and lines of flight animating their daily negotiations of tasks, objects, knowledge and relationships. These dual movements of ‘escaping/becoming' in work, and the boundaryconstitution supporting them, are unlikely to be restricted to contract workers. However, their explicit activities of boundary work help amplify a phenomenon that may well be shared more broadly among workers in the new economy.

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

People (1)


Professor Tara Fenwick

Professor Tara Fenwick

Emeritus Professor, Education