Workplace participatory practices: Conceptualising workplaces as learning environments
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This paper discusses workplaces as learning environments emphasising workplace participatory practices as conceptual foundations. These practices comprise the kinds of activities and interactions workplaces afford learners, on one hand, and how individuals elect to participate in workplace activities and interactions, on the other. Underpinning both workplace affordances and individuals' participation are the associated concepts of intentionality and continuity. Workplaces intentionally regulate individuals' participation; it is not ad hoc, unstructured or informal. This regulation is a product of cultural practices, social norms, workplace affiliations, cliques and demarcations (Billett 2002a). Those who control the processes and division of labour, including interests and affiliations within the workplace regulate participation to maintain the continuity of the workplace through regulatory practices (Grey 1994). Similarly, individuals will engage in ways that best serve their purposes, such as how it will assist their career trajectory, securing opportunities, or even locating easy work options. There is no separation between engagement in thinking of acting at work and learning (Lave 1990, 1993; Rogoff 1990, 1995). Therefore, the kinds of opportunities the workplace affords individuals in terms of the activities they engage in and interactions with others, and how individuals elect to engage are salient to their learning through participation in the workplace. Commencing by arguing for fresh appraisals of workplaces as learning environments, the paper challenges some current assumptions. Then through a consideration of workplaces as historically, culturally, and situationally shaped environments in which individuals elect to engage in particular ways, workplace participatory practices are advanced as premises for understanding and organising learning through work. Central here are the relationality interdependent processes shaping individuals' learning in workplaces. These comprise the negotiations occurring between individuals' desire for continuity through engagement and how opportunities are afforded on the basis of the continuities of affiliations, interests and particular workplace goals
Journal of Workplace Learning
© 2004 Emerald: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the publisher version for access to the definitive, published version.