Self-employed and online: (Re)negotiating work-learning practices



Thompson TL (2010) Self-employed and online: (Re)negotiating work-learning practices. Journal of Workplace Learning, 22 (6), pp. 360-375.

Purpose – In order to explore how informal pedagogical moments are being renegotiated by thetechnology woven into people’s lives, this paper aims to focus on online communities as sites oflearning; more specifically, the informal work-related learning practices of self-employed workers inthese cyberspaces.Design/methodology/approach – This paper draws on the notion of legitimate peripheralparticipation (LPP) from situated learning theory in order to examine the development ofwork-learning practices online. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with own-account self-employed workers (contractors and consultants who do not have staff) about their engagement inonline communities for work learning.Findings – Findings indicate that these self-employed workers were learning work practices, theviability of doing particular work, how to participate in online communities for work learning, andhow to participate in fluid knowledges. The significance of developing a work-learning practice isemphasized, as is the impact of multiple and peripheral positionings across on- and offline spaces.Research limitations/implications – Web technologies and shifting configurations of onlinecollectives shake up notions of expertise, beliefs about who is able to produce, and consumeinformation, and where one locates themselves, in order to build work-learning practices. Multiplepositioning across several online communities, and ways of participating that are peripheral, partial, and part-time warrant further examination.Originality/value – The value of this paper is its exploration of how self-employed workers developan online work-learning practice and the tensions that these practices bring. The paper also attemptsto discuss the utility of LPP for contemporary learning practices.

Self-employed workers; Workplace learning; Virtual organizations; Communities; Online learning

Journal of Workplace Learning: Volume 22, Issue 6

Publication date31/12/2010
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing

People (1)


Dr Terrie-Lynn Thompson

Dr Terrie-Lynn Thompson

Senior Lecturer, Education