Work Identity and Contradictory Experiences of Welfare Workers in a Life-history Perspective

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    Abstract

    »Arbeitsidentität und widersprüchliche Erfahrungen in der Lebensgeschichte
    von Sozialarbeiter/innen und Krankenschwestern«. Transformation
    of the welfare sectors challenge professional identities of care and welfare
    workers in Scandinavia. At the same time welfare and care workers take
    part in these changes and are changed in the psycho-social setting of the
    workplace. This article presents research about care work in Denmark with a
    focus on subjective processing of work identity, applying a psycho-societal
    theoretical and methodical approach. A life historical and experiential understanding
    of Alfred Lorenzer's cultural theory is applied to understand societal
    transformations, here in the work place and of professionals in relation to their
    present scene of work and in relation to their life history. Two concepts are applied,
    interaction form and scenic understanding, because of their potentials
    for analyzing workers' experience. The analysis is based on a combined ethnographic
    and life historical investigation in nursing and involves a young nurse
    in scenes of the hospital, where gendered life history is re-enacted and present
    in a gendered work life with fragile possibilities of identification. Social dynamics
    interact with subjective dynamics in ways that illuminate not only habitual
    and creative orientations and practices of professionals in care, but also the
    contradictory transformations of the work, e.g. marketization and democratization
    in the work place.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalHistorical Social Research
    Volume38
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)107-123
    ISSN0172-6404
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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