Taking a stand against normative biography – a biographical perspective on learning careers and professional identity development of male social workers
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Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania
Publication date: 2016-09-30
JoMS 2016;30(3):81–99
The paper discusses transformation of professional identity of individuals who have chosen work activity that is not traditional for their gender. Participants of our research are male social workers in Lithuania. The study on change of professional identity of male social workers presented in this article has revealed that the process of becoming a social worker among males is a sequence of complex decisions and experiences accompanied by critical incidents and changes in their life trajectories and learning careers. Trajectories of educational experience and life events of the research participants have revealed the choice in favour of non-traditional occupation as a defeat of traditional gender division of labour by opposing to “normality” – by undergoing and overcoming the crisis. One of interesting aspects of analysis is the issue of experiences occurring in the course of deviation from standardized, predetermined and preset life journey, i.e. normative biography. Such a complexity is caused by ideal norms of hegemonic masculinity that frame actual social structures and are introduced into the processes of socialization and habituation with the aim to form dominant masculine habitus. Analysis of biographical narratives of male social workers have disclosed learning careers and at the same time the balancing of the males between the normative trajectory of masculine behaviour and striving to find their own “self ”.