From Doing Work to Talking Work: Renegotiating Knowing, Doing, and Identity
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- Applied Linguistics, 2003, 24 (3), pp. 316 - 337+420+422
- Issue Date:
This paper considers the ways in which work is changing in two very different sites: a gaming machine factory and a metropolitan teaching hospital. In addition, the paper explores the implications of these changes for our own work as researchers and discourse analysts. In comparing the hospital and the factory, and in relating these sites to academia, we aim to bring out commonalities between what is happening to workers in factory occupations and those who work as expert professionals. We will argue that, in the contemporary workplace, workers across a variety of sites are being confronted with having to renegotiate their knowing, their doing, and their worker identity. Drawing on empirical evidence, we focus on how factory employees deploy a team building device called 'Problem Solving Plus', and on how different clinicians co-formulate a multi-disciplinary 'Clinical Pathway', to demonstrate that these two phenomena represent discursive strategies that require both kinds of workers to produce discourse that goes outside the boundaries of their conventional worker habitus. As new discourse practices, these two phenomena are central to reconstituting occupational and professional work and knowledge, and to problematizing identity. The paper concludes that these strategies are part of a new textualization of work (Darville 1995; Jackson 2000), and represent what we might term the 'reflexivization' of worker identity.
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