Edited by Sara Delamont
Chapter 11: Walk this Way, Talk this Way: Qualitative Research on Professional Education
Lesley Pugsley Learning is not restricted to childhood, nor is education simply what occurs within the classroom. Becoming a member of a profession requires the novitiate to accept and adopt the particular mores of the group, since membership confers on the individual a degree of power within society by virtue of professional expertise. Ethnographies of professional education provide valuable insights into the ways in which knowledge is transmitted and cultural norms and values are assimilated in a variety of settings. Professions make extraordinary demands on their members; professionals are required to master substantive amounts of specialist knowledge and technical expertise. Additionally they must engage with their own unique subcultures, each of which demands specific normative standards from its members symbolized by professional ethical codes. In the health professions, for example, these codes include strong altruistic elements. Professional standards are learned on a formal level at university and more informally in the workplace during the process of professional socialization. The transformation of novice to professional is essentially an acculturation process during which the values, norms and symbols of the profession are internalized (Merton et al., 1957; Benner,  2001). Apprentices learn to think, act and interact in increasingly knowledgeable ways by spending long periods as legitimate peripheral participants, observing and engaging with those who are expert in their chosen profession (Lave and Wenger, 1991). In consequence occupational and professional cultures are locally situated, produced and reproduced in the day to day experiences of the workforce. However, professionalism is a somewhat nebulous...
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