For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"A Phenomenological Perspective on Researching Work and Learning"

by Dall’Alba, Gloria; Sandberg, Jörgen (2014)


Conventional research approaches typically conceptualise learning within and for work in terms of two separate entities: subject and object. More specifically, the individual subject who is learning is considered to be independent of the work to be learned. In contrast, practice-based approaches commonly emphasise the relation, rather than separateness, of subject and work. In this chapter, we engage with phenomenology in extending previous accounts of learning within and for work by bringing to the fore the manner in which practice is constituted through the entwinement of life with world. We elaborate a lifeworld perspective on researching work-related learning, which challenges the ontological assumption of a subject-object constellation in significant ways. This challenge is pertinent whether subject and object are seen as independent of each other (as in conventional approaches) or as becoming related during performance of work (in several practice-based approaches). We explore how entwinement with world makes learning possible, while pointing to ways in which a lifeworld perspective affords novel resources for informing and enhancing research on learning within and for work.

Key Passage

From a lifeworld perspective, learning is made possible and circumscribed by away of existing that is more basic than the subject-object constellation, namely, whatMartin Heidegger ( 1962 /1927) called being-in-the-world. This notion stipulatesthat subject and world are not primarily separated, but that we are always alreadyentwined with others and things in the context of specific practice worlds, such asteaching, occupational therapy and plumbing. In other words, it is our inevitableentwinement with specific practice worlds that makes learning possible. (p.281)


Phenomenology, Practice, Education, Learning, Heidegger


On Heidegger

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