Byrne, Victoria (2011) Emotion and professional identities: A comparative study of professionals in Further Education and learning disability support services. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This research observes and compares the emotions and professional identities of professionals working in Further Education in the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, and for a learning disability charity in the North of England. I wanted to identify the rewards and pressures in order to develop an understanding of how emotional demands inform professional identities.

In relation to this, both groups of professionals have obligations with regards providing care for the people they serve, whilst also fulfilling other responsibilities which appear to contrast with this. Education professionals must facilitate achievement, whilst support workers must enable service users to live as independently as possible.

Twenty semi-structured, intensive interviews were conducted with participants who were gathered using purposive sampling. It was an exploratory study, broadly following an interpretive grounded theory approach.

My findings indicate a positive sense of professional identity is facilitated when the professionals feel they are significant within their professional environment; have a certain amount of control or agency; and hold values which are aligned with the organisation. Professionals were most passionate about their work when they were working with underprivileged or „forgotten‟ members of society, such as low achieving students and people with learning disabilities.

Decisions made outside the working environment seemed to negatively affect professionals most. Issues relating to current policy, targets and management pressures were evidenced as concerns for professionals in Further Education. Professionals at the Mencap affiliated organisation involved in the research cited increased paperwork as an issue as it undermined their sense of agency; they felt they were being unnecessarily monitored. The professionals working with people with learning disabilities have great pride in their organisation and worry about the prospect of policy altering the way they work.

The findings indicate that greater agency; a less businesslike approach; and the alignment of organisational and personal values proves beneficial to professional identity.

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