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Policy, profession and person : the formation of reflexive academic identities in an Irish Institute of technology.

O'Byrne, Carol (2009) Policy, profession and person : the formation of reflexive academic identities in an Irish Institute of technology. EdD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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The study presented in this thesis explores the dynamic formation of academic professional identities in the Institute of Technology (loT) sector of Irish higher education. In particular it investigates how national and institutional structures and policies impact on those identities in one loT. The study further investigates whether and how such identities have been transformed by changes that have occurred at both national and local levels over the relatively short life span of the technological sector. Life history interviews were undertaken with sixteen academics of different 'generations' and from four different broad disciplinary backgrounds, namely Business, Engineering, Humanities and Science, with a view to understanding how policy translates at the level of individual academic lives and to revealing how structures and agency interact and impact on professional identity formation in a specific national and historical context. A theoretical framework based on Archer's conceptualisations of structure, agency and identity informed the analysis of the data. The research suggests that an identity shift has occurred over time, with the predominantly teaching-based identity which characterised those who entered lecturing prior the enactment of legislation for the technological sector in 1992 being replaced by a more complex and multi-layered professional identity built around a combination of roles in teaching, research and administration among those whose professional academic careers began in the post-I 992 period. Individual lecturers are clearly influenced by the context in which they operate and by the policies that shape that context, which constrain them in the pursuit of some of their projects, while enabling them in the pursuit of others. The impact of structures and policies on individuals and their professional identities is not uniform however. It can and does vary from one individual to another and appears to be significantly mediated both by the stances individuals adopt towards the constraints and enablements their projects activate and by the actions of those at the meso (institutional) level who interpret and implement macro-level policies. By providing insights into how individual academics are affected by national policies and structures and local efforts to interpret and implement these policies, the research seeks to influence both policy formation and policy implementation. In particular, it seeks to contribute to policy makers' understanding of the likely reactions to new policies of those for whom they legislate and of the reasons for these reactions, and to thereby encourage the generation of policies that enable rather than constrain.

Item Type: Thesis (EdD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Education (Sheffield)
Other academic unit: Department of Educational Studies
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.505733
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2019 13:14
Last Modified: 11 Sep 2019 13:14
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21822

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