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Title: There is no ‘I’ in identity : a dialogic, social and discursive exploration of professional identity within inter-agency interactions
Authors: Richardson, Hannah
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis explores professional identity and its relevance for frontline professionals working in Children’s Services. Specifically, this thesis aims to illuminate how practitioners mobilise their professional identities (i.e., the fluid shifts in an individual’s conceptualisation of their identity) during inter-agency activity. The document is comprised of four chapters: a systematic literature review (SLR), a critical discussion of the research methodology, an empirical project, and a reflexive synthesis. Chapter 1: Mobilising professional identity during inter-agency activity? A meta-ethnography of research conducted with professionals working in UK Children’s Services This chapter presents a SLR aiming to explore how practitioners within Children’s Services mobilise their professional identity during inter-agency activity. By using a meta-ethnography approach to synthesise the available literature, the findings of the SLR support postmodern accounts of identity and show the construct as fluid, contingent and constituted within interaction. Here, professional identities are mobilised through the sharing of professional knowledge and positioning of the other identities, which can lead to both positive and negative affective consequences. To articulate the SLR findings, I advance a tentative model demonstrating how identities are mobilised during inter-agency activity, which would be of interest to professionals working in Children’s Services. Please note, this chapter has been written for submission to the Journal of Children’s Services. Chapter 2: Critical reflection of research methodology and ethics In this chapter, I reflect on my approach to understanding professional identity by outlining the main findings of the SLR and how this informed the focus and aim of the empirical project. I critically consider my philosophical assumptions about the world, and how my conceptualisations of identity emerge from the qualitative paradigm and a discursive psychology approach. I then examine what implications these assumptions had on the design, method, sample, analysis, and validity of the empirical project. Finally, I explore ethical issues through a relational lens and highlight the tensions this posed during my research journey. Chapter 3: Mobilising professional identity during inter-agency activity: a contribution from discursive psychology Despite the interest in understanding professional identity, the link between the phenomena and work behaviour remains unclear especially during inter-agency activity. The empirical project explores how professionals working across organisational boundaries within an inter-agency team located in Children’s Services mobilised their identities discursively during their interactions and to what psychological ends. I adopted a discursive psychology approach and used a case study design to conduct participant observations and stimulated recall interviews. The findings show that professional identities were mobilised as social identities where the participants orientated to three positions (i.e., ‘I’, ‘us’ and ‘they’) to accomplish various interpersonal social actions. Finally, I outline the study’s implications, strengths, and limitations before arriving at a conclusion. Please note, this chapter has been written for submission to Educational and Child Psychology. Chapter 4: Critical synthesis This final chapter provides a critical synthesis of the thesis. To begin, I highlight the importance of reflexivity by presenting my interactions with this thesis, my influence on certain aspects of the research and how I think this has impacted on the knowledge produced. Next, I consider what this knowledge means for me as a trainee educational psychologist and explore the implications of both the empirical knowledge and acquired research skills for my practice. Finally, I reflect on what I will do next by discussing how I plan to disseminate the findings and what direction I might take for future research.
Description: D. App.Ed.Psy Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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