Expertise as a “capacity for action”: reframing vocational knowledge from the perspective of work

Guile, David/Unwin, Lorna  (2020)
In: Journal of Vocational Education & Training 2020, pp. 1-19.
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13636820.2020.1858939

Publication Cover

ABSTRACT
“Occupational expertise has always been constituted and afforded recognition and status in work contexts, however, these contexts are becoming increasingly interconnected and interrelated, underpinned by, ‘intangible assets’. To explore this complex process and its implications for vocational education and training (VET), this article uses the concept of expertise as a ‘capacity for action’ and its emphasis on the communicative dimension of expertise. It explores the implications of these ideas by identifying, firstly, the ways in which knowledge is produced, consumed, adapted, and discarded through work practices and, secondly, how the valuing of expertise arises from the contexts in which its deployed and shaped. The paper concludes with a framework to show how the necessary components for the development of expertise as a ‘capacity for action’ within VET programmes could be portrayed. It argues that this could offer the means to strengthen the capacity of VET learners (at whatever stage) to both utilise their expertise and understand how it is being recognised and valued.”
EXTRACT
” We then introduce Boltanski and Thévenot’s (2006) taxonomy of ‘economies of worth’ as a potential vocabulary for understanding how our conception and deployment of expertise is influenced by, on the one hand, the reconciliation of competing conceptions of value (for example, aesthetic, technical, financial, sustainability) in occupational settings and, on the other hand, occupational recognition and status within society beyond the traditional benchmarks awarded through educational credentials.” (p. 2)