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Contested Learning in Welfare Work
A Study of Mind, Political Economy, and the Labour Process


Part of Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives

  • Date Published: August 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107034679

£ 73.99

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About the Authors
  • Drawing on the field of cultural historical psychology and the sociologies of skill and labour process, Contested Learning in Welfare Work offers a detailed account of the learning lives of state welfare workers in Canada as they cope, accommodate, resist and flounder in times of heightened austerity. Documented through in-depth qualitative and quantitative analysis, Peter Sawchuk shows how the labour process changes workers, and how workers change the labour process, under the pressures of intensified economic conditions, new technologies, changing relations of space and time, and a high-tech version of Taylorism. Sawchuk traces these experiences over a seven-year period that includes major work reorganisation and the recent economic downturn. His analysis examines the dynamics between notions of de-skilling, re-skilling and up-skilling, as workers negotiate occupational learning and changing identities.

    • Establishes a new theoretical dialogue across multiple disciplines including adult education, psychology, sociology, political economy and history
    • Offers the opportunity to study occupational learning and work change patterns applicable across Western countries
    • Demonstrates multi-methodological approaches to work research
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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107034679
    • length: 287 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.65kg
    • contains: 9 b/w illus. 3 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. The skills impasse and an activity approach
    3. Taylorism – re-engaging with an enduring influence
    4. Historical meditations in the making of Taylorism in contemporary state social services work
    5. Experiencing the de-skilling premises of welfare work
    6. De-skilling – learning welfare work and the meditations of space, time, and distance
    7. Re-skilling, consenting, and the engrossments of administrative knowledge
    8. Up-skilling, resisting, and re-keying for craft knowledge
    9. Divisions of knowledge production, group formation, and occupational acculturation
    10. Understanding prevalence, roots, and factors of trajectories of knowledge production
    11. Mind in political economy and the labour process – a use-value thesis

  • Author

    Peter H. Sawchuk, University of Toronto
    Peter Sawchuk is a Professor of Adult Education and Industrial Relations at the University of Toronto. He studies, writes and teaches in the areas of adult learning theory, the sociology and psychology of education and work, and Marxist political economy. Professor Sawchuk specialises in social perspectives on learning and the economy, emphasising the relationships between learning, labour processes, labour markets and political economy.

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