"Fractional" Vocational Working and Learning in Project Teams: "Project Assemblage" as a Unit of Analysis?

Date

2023-11-03

Authors

Spinuzzi, Clay
Guile, David

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Springer Link

Abstract

Situated and Activity theories have exercised a significant influence in the field of vocational learning for some considerable time, both sharing a focus on bounded forms of work and forms of learning that facilitate learning in, or to changes to, bounded forms of work. Yet much learning occurs in unbounded contexts often referred to as projectification, where collaborations occur only for the life of a project thereby creating new contingent contexts for learning . Given the existence of this form of working and learning, what type of unit of analysis (UoA) is required to analyse that vocational working and learning in the context of projectification? To address this question, the paper advances the following inter-theoretical argument. Firstly, it is timely to develop a new unit of analysis (UoA) to capture the fractional (intermittent, discontinuous and concurrent) working and learning dynamics associated with the forms of projectification, where funding has to be procured in order to commence. Secondly, that unit of analysis is constituted by the concept of project assemblage, which is based on ideas from Actor Network Theory, Cultural-historical Activity Theory and Cultural Sociology. Thirdly, this new UoA enables researchers to identify the way in which project teams, where members are coming in-and-out, learn to use their different forms of specialist activity to enact objects, why team members will have different backgrounds and understandings of their work, why objects may not cohere, even though team members may treat them as unified and coherent, and how team members learn to incorporate one another’s insights and suggestions, and establish a finalized object.

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