Becoming a Practitioner: Professional Learning as a Social Practice

  • Silvia GherardiEmail author
  • Manuela Perrotta
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


A practice-based interpretative framework for reading the process of becoming a professional as a social practice is developed to examine the ecology of the human and non-human actors involved in induction to the organization and seduction by the profession. We argue that professionals undergo induction into the organization while they undergo seduction by the profession. The chapter illustrates the situatedness of this process in relation to different types of organizations (private, public, network) in order to analyse the relation between the induction process and the actors that influence it. Three different models of induction are described: (a) in a professional bureaucracy, socialization precedes selection, and the key actor is the profession; (b) in a small private organization, induction is almost exclusively managed by the community of practice in the form of seduction by the profession; (c) in a large network of organizations, induction is explicitly managed by the organization and becomes a means to transmit the organizational culture.

Because the process of becoming a professional is a continuous process throughout working life, the tensions and contradictions that characterize its accomplishment are discussed in relation to the issues of behaviour control versus professional control, managerialism versus professionalism and identity work.

This chapter proposes that induction is not solely the effect of encounters between individuals and organizations, because two other agents are involved in the process: the profession and the community of practice.


Authoring Induction Community of practice Practice-based studies Professional control Situated curriculum Socialization 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Social ResearchUniversity of TrentoTrentoItaly
  2. 2.School of Business and ManagementQueen Mary, University of LondonLondonUK

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