The multiple reals of workplace learning
Kerry Harman: Birbeck, University of London, UK
Read article:
Full article (pdf)
No. of pages:
Publication type:

The multiple reals of workplace learning are explored in this paper. Drawing on a Foucauldian conceptualisation of power as distributed, relational and productive, networks that work to produce particular objects and subjects as seemingly natural and real are examined. This approach enables different reals of workplace learning to be traced. Data from a collaborative industry-university research project is used to illustrate the approach, with a focus on the intersecting practices of a group of professional developers and a group of workplace learning researchers. The notion of multiple reals holds promise for research on workplace learning as it moves beyond a view of reality as fixed and singular to a notion of reality as performed in and through a diversity of practices, including the practices of workplace learning researchers.

Keywords: Ontological politics; workplace learning; power; networks

Volume 5, Issue: 1, Article 4, 2014

Kerry Harman
The multiple reals of workplace learning:
  • Antonacopoulou, E. P. (2009). Impact and scholarship: unlearning and practising to co-create actionable knowledge. Management Learning, 40(4), 421-430. doi: 10.1177/1350507609336708
  • Billett, S., Fenwick, T., & Somerville, M. (2006). Work, Subjectivity and Learning: Understanding Learning through Working Life. Dordrecht: Springer. doi: 10.1007/1-4020-5360-6
  • Boud, D., & Solomon, N. (Eds.). (2001). Work-based learning: a new higher education. Buckingham: SRHE & Open University Press.
  • Boud, D., & Solomon, N. (2003). “I don’t think I am a learner”: acts of naming learners at work. Journal of Workplace Learning, 15(7/8), 326-331. doi: 10.1108/13665620310504800
  • Bradbury, H., Kilminster, S., Frost, N., & Zukas, M. (2009). Professional perspectives. In H. Bradbury, N. Frost, S. Kilminster & M. Zukas (Eds.), Beyond Reflective Practice: New Approaches to Professional Lifelong Learning (pp. 81-82). London: Routledge.
  • Callon, M. (1986). Some elements of a sociology of translation: domestication of the scallops and the fishermen of St Brieuc Bay. In J. Law (Ed.), Power, Action, and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge (pp. 196-233). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  • Contu, A., Grey, C., & Ortenblad, A. (2003). Against learning. Human Relations, 56(8), 931-952. doi: 10.1177/00187267030568002
  • Contu, A., & Willmott, H. (2003). Re-embedding situatedness: the importance of power relations in learning theory. Organization Science, 14(3), 283-296. doi: 10.1287/orsc.
  • Corradi, G., Gherardi, S., & Verzelloni, L. (2010). Through the practice lens: where is the bandwagon of practice-based studies heading? Management Learning, 41(3), 265-283. doi: 10.1177/1350507609356938
  • Department for Business Innovation and Skills. (2009). Higher Ambitions: the future of universities in a knowledge economy. NP URN 09/1447
  • Department for Business Innovation and Skills. (2011). Higher education: Students at the heart of the system. London: Stationery Office.
  • Dreyfus, H. L., & Rabinow, P. (1982). Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Easterby-Smith, M. (1997). Disciplines of organizational learning: contributions and critiques. Human Relations, 50(9), 1085-1113. doi: 10.1177/001872679705000903
  • Edwards, R. (1998). Mapping, Locating and translating: a discursive approach to professional development. Studies in Continuing Education, 20(1), 23-38. doi: 10.1080/0158037980200102
  • Edwards, R., & Nicoll, K. (2004). Mobilizing workplaces: actors, discipline and governmentality. Studies in Continuing Education, 26(2), 159-173. doi: 10.1080/158037042000225191
  • Edwards, R., & Nicoll, K. (2006). Expertise, competence and reflection in the rhetoric of professional development. British Educational Research Journal, 32(1), 115-131. doi: 10.1080/01411920500402052
  • Fejes, A., & Nicoll, K. (Eds.). (2008). Foucault and Lifelong Learning. London: Routledge.
  • Fenwick, T. (2006). Tidying the territory: questioning terms and purposes in work-learning research. Journal of Workplace Learning, 18(5), 265-278. doi: 10.1108/13665620610674953
  • Fenwick, T. (2008). Understanding relations of individual and collective learning in work: a review of research. Management Learning, 39(3), 227-243. doi: 10.1177/1350507608090875
  • Fenwick, T. (2010). Workplace ‘learning’ and adult education: Messy objects, blurry maps and making difference. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 1(1-2), 79-95. doi: 10.3384/rela.2000-7426.rela0006
  • Fenwick, T., & Edwards, R. (2011). Considering materiality in educational policy: messy objects and multiple reals. Educational Theory, 61(6), 709-726. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-5446.2011.00429.x
  • Foucault, M. (1980). Power/Knowledge. Brighton: Harvester.
  • Fox, A. (1974). Beyond Contract: Work, Power and Trust Relations. London: Faber & Faber.
  • Fullerton, T. (Writer). (2005). The Degree Factories [Television], Four Corners. Sydney: ABC.
  • Gallagher, M. (2000). The emergence of entrepreneurial public universities in Australia. Canberra: Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs.
  • Garnett, J., Costley, C., & Workman, B. (Eds.). (2009). Work based learning: Journeys to the Core of Higher Education. London: Middlesex University Press.
  • Garvin, D. A. (1993). Building a learning organisation. Harvard Business Review, July-August.
  • Gee, J. P., Hull, G., & Lankshear, C. (1996). The New Work Order. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin.
  • Gherardi, S. (2006). Organizational Knowledge: The Texture of Workplace Learning. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Hager, P. (1999). Finding a good theory of workplace learning. In D. Boud & J. Garrick (Eds.), Understanding Learning at Work (pp. 65-82). London: Routledge.
  • Hager, P., Lee, A., & Reich, A. (Eds.). (2012). Practice, Learning and Change. Dordrecht: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-4774-6
  • Harman, K. (2012). Everyday learning in a public sector workplace: The embodiment of managerial discourses. Management Learning, 43(3), 275-289. doi: 10.1177/1350507611427232
  • Latour, B. (1986). The powers of association. In J. Law (Ed.), Power, Action, and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge (pp. 264-280). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  • Law, J. (2004). After Method: mess in social science research. Oxon: Routledge.
  • Law, J. (2008). Actor Network Theory and Material Semiotics. In B. S. Turner (Ed.), The New Blackwell Companion to Social Theory (3rd ed.). (pp. 141–158). Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Linkage - Projects (2005). Retrieved August 15, 2005, from http://www.arc.gov.au/apply_grants/linkage_projects.htm
  • Marsick, V. J., & Watkins, K. E. (1990). Informal and Incidental Learning in the Workplace. London: Routledge.
  • Miller, P., & Rose, N. (1993). Governing economic life. In M. Gane & T. Johnson (Eds.), Foucaults New Domains (pp. 75-105). London: Routledge.
  • Mitchell, J. (2003). Effectively structuring communities of practice in VET: Australian National Training Authority.
  • Mol, A. (1999). Ontological politics. A word and some questions. In J. Law & J. Hassard (Eds.), Actor Network Theory and After (pp. 74-89). Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Nelson, B. (2002). Higher education at the crossroads: an overview paper. Canberra: Department of Education, Science and Training.
  • Nerland, M. (2012). Professions as knowledge cultures. In K. Jensen, L. C. Lahn & M. Nerland (Eds.), Professional Learning in the Knowledge Society (pp. 27-48). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. doi: 10.1007/978-94-6091-994-7_2
  • Nicoll, K., & Fejes, A. (2008). Mobilizing Foucault in studies of lifelong learning. In A. Fejes & K. Nicoll (Eds.), Foucault and Lifelong Learning (pp. 1-8). London: Routledge.
  • Nicoll, K., & Fejes, A. (2011). Lifelong learning: a pacification of ‘know how’. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 30, 403-417. doi: 10.1007/s11217-011-9235-x
  • Rose, N. (1999). Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self (2nd ed.). London: Free Association Books.
  • Senge, P. M. (1992). The Fifth Discipline. Sydney: Random House.
  • Strengthening Australias Higher Education System. (2004). Retrieved June 28, 2004, from http://www.dest.gov.au/Ministers/Media/Nelson/2004/05/n698070504.asp
  • Usher, R., & Solomon, N. (1999). Experiential learning and the shaping of subjectivity in the workplace. Studies in the Education of Adults, 31(2), 155-163.
  • Wedgwood, M. (2006). Higher Education for the Workforce: Barriers and Facilitators to Employer Engagement: Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills.
  • Weedon, C. (2004). Identity and culture: narratives of difference and belonging. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
  • Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511803932
  • Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. M. (2002). Cultivating Communities of Practice. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
  • Wilson, T. (2012). Business-university collaboration: the Wilson review: Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. URN 12/610

Volume 5, Issue: 1, Article 4, 2014

Kerry Harman
The multiple reals of workplace learning:
Note: the following are taken directly from CrossRef
  • Kerry Harman (2018). A tentative return to experience in researching learning at work. Studies in Continuing Education, 40(1): 17. DOI: 10.1080/0158037X.2017.1392938
  • Kerry Harman (2016). Examining work-education intersections: the production of learning reals in and through practice. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 7(1): 89. DOI: 10.3384/rela.2000-7426.rela0162
  • Export in BibTex, RIS or text