Researching the individual in workplace research

Stephen Loftus, Joy Higgs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Researching how people are educated for practice has often been seen as problematic. We recommend qualitative approaches that draw on hermeneutic phenomenology and narrative inquiry. It is our intention to outline approaches that we believe can be used in an emerging research agenda. We begin by examining assumptions underlying much workplace research and recent trends, such as social constructionism. There has been a gradual recognition of the importance of the social aspects of practice with the rise in popularity of such ideas as communities of practice, and the recognition of the significance of the work of scholars such as Vygotsky. However, the individual's interaction with the practice environment and their interpretation of their own experience has been somewhat neglected. We argue that there is an important dialogical relationship between the individual and the practice environment, affected by personal histories, workplace cultures and education. We need more research that deeply engages with the individual's perspective on practice. We argue that combining hermeneutic phenomenology and narrative inquiry can allow research to engage with the individual's subjective experience and explore the relationships between individuals and their communities of practice. We also draw on the ideas of the Russian scholar, Mikhail Bakhtin, to further develop the importance of studying the dynamic dialogical relationships that individuals establish with themselves and their practice environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-388
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Education and Work
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010

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