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Connected identities: professional identity in transition

By B. Oliver


This thesis outlines the impact on professional identities of the shift towards 'joined-up working' and the blurring of role distinctions embodied in much current government policy. Set within a context of continuously developing policy concerning the delivery of services to children and young people, and in particular in relation to workforce reform and 'modernisation', this thesis adopts an emergent or Grounded Theory approach to uncovering the experiences of a sample of Connexions Personal Advisers (PA) as they adapted to the change in and challenge to their professional identities. The introduction of the Connexions Personal Adviser was one of the first attempts to create a new 'modern, flexible, holistic' role, but as is explained in this thesis, it is unlikely to be the last. The experience of these PAs, therefore, represents an important contribution to our understanding of how professional identity can be understood during times of change. Grounded Theory is an inductive approach within which theories are 'grounded' and built up systematically from emergent data. This thesis offers an analysis of the experience of a sample of Connexions PAs gathered through a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. An emergent theme has been the significance of inclusive and adaptive practitioner networks within which to explore the challenges to professional values brought about by the introduction of new roles. In this analysis 'identity' is not seen as a fixed construct needing to be 'changed', but as one that is continuously moulded and shaped as discourses about practice develop. The thesis presents a dynamic and iterative conceptualisation of the 'Connected Identity' - conceived as an ongoing dialogue that, if managed and supported appropriately, can lead to the development of an invigorated and transformative practice that leaves the practitioners involved feeling energised and enthusiastic for their work

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