Teachers’ professional identity negotiations in two different work organisations

Vähäsantanen, Katja; Hökkä, Päivi; Eteläpelto, Anneli; Rasku-Puttonen, Helena and Littleton, Karen (2008). Teachers’ professional identity negotiations in two different work organisations. Vocations and Learning: Studies in Vocational and Professional Education, 1(2) pp. 131–148.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12186-008-9008-z


Recent studies have described professional identity as the interplay between individual agency and social context. However, we need to understand how these are intertwined in different kinds of work settings. This paper focuses on teachers’ professional identity negotiations as involving the work organisation, the professional community and individual agency. The data were gathered from two work organisations representing different management cultures and sources of control over teachers’ work. Open-ended narrative interviews were used, focusing on teachers’ own experiences and perceptions. A data-driven qualitative analysis was applied. Our findings indicated that different work organisations provided differing resources for teachers’ professional identity negotiations. Teachers were more committed to their work organisation if they had enough agency, if they had opportunities to practise their own orientations towards the profession, and if major changes were not imposed on their working practices from outside.

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