The field of workplace learning scholarship in Western countries is reviewed. First, the emergence of workplace learning scholarship is discussed historically for its relation to the emergence and ongoing development of capitalism beginning from early thought on markets and productivity, 20th century scientific management, industrialism and post-industrialism theses, and finally contemporary conceptual and disciplinary expansion and the conditions of globalization under late capitalism. Following this, six thematic clusters of research are discussed in relation to key scholars, their primary contributions and the ways that each can, potentially, inform those working in other areas of workplace learning scholarship. These thematic clusters include the following: i. cognition, expertise, and the individual; ii. micro-interaction, cognition, and communication; iii. mediated practice and participation; iv. meaning, identity, and organization life; v. authority, conflict, and control; and vi. competitiveness and knowledge management. It is concluded that no single thematic cluster has established predominance, and that there is a strong tendency toward isolation or balkanization of research interests (thematically, nationally, linguistically, etc.) despite a variety of parallel and/or mutually informing interests.
In the past two decades, advanced capitalist countries have seen sustained growth in labour market participation along with a growth in the number of jobs workers tend to have in their working lives. Over a slightly longer period we also see that participation in both formal educational attainment and a range of non-compulsory learning/training has grown. However, labour market discrimination based on gender, age, disability and race/ethnicity remains a serious issue in virtually all OECD countries.
‘Challenging Transitions in Learning and Work’ presents a critical and expansive exploration of learning and work transitions within this context. These transitions are challenging for those enmeshed in them and need to be actively challenged through the critical research reported. The impetus for this volume, its conceptual framing, and much of the research emerges from the team of Canadian researchers who together completed case study and survey projects within the ‘Work and Lifelong Learning’ (WALL) network. The authors include leading scholars with established international reputations as well as emerging researchers with fresh perspectives. This volume will appeal to researchers and policy-makers internationally with an interest in educational studies and industrial sociology.