The eye of the storm: discursive power and resistance in the development of a professional qualification for adult literacies practitioners in Scotland

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The claim to be a profession traditionally assumes the need for a University level qualification. In a previously unregulated area of practice, the development of a professional qualification is thus central to the professionalisation process. In Scotland, the development of a Teaching Qualification for Adult Literacies practitioners became the focal point for the tensions in the broader professionalisation project and a site of discursive contestation in an emergent field of practice. This paper explores the play of power and resistance, drawing primarily on two separate but related research studies– a policy analysis and an exploration of practitioners' conceptualisations of practice. Whilst the first study explicitly used the methodological framework of Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, 2003) and the second, Personal Construct Theory (Kelly, 1955), they are connected by their postmodern focus on language use and an interest in how practitioners are managed by and, in turn, manage and mediate managerial and professional forms of power; both aimed to examine 'how discourse figures in the processes of change' (Fairclough, 2003, p. 205). Brought into relationship with one another in the context of the nexus of power relations formed by the development of the new qualification, they illuminate the multiple 'projects' competing discursively in the space.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-73
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2011


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