Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of recognition in learning processes among female nurses, social and health care assistants and occupational therapists working with people with dementia and other age‐related illnesses. Design/methodology/approach – The paper highlights the need to experience recognizing learning spaces among social and health care workers dealing with elderly care. Such learning spaces are crucial/imperative in order to come to terms with emotionally stressing experiences from daily work, and in order to be prepared for future challenges, such as new tasks or patients with a complex diagnosis. Drawing on Nordic research into health and care work, it is argued that, particularly in work fields which are mentally loaded or which are not held in high esteem culturally, this condition seems to be important. Findings – The main argument is that learning is related to recognition – especially when it comes to groups of professionals, who are low ranked in the workplace hierarchy and therefore seldom experience recognition in their daily work. According to interviews with members of the mentioned professional groups, learning spaces, in which the medical and professional hierarchies are suspended, promote learning processes. Originality/value – Axel Honneth's critical theory of recognition is used as the theoretical framework for understanding more generally the relational nature of human learning processes and the need for recognizing contexts. The paper concludes that this need is particularly imperative in health and care work for the elderly, but may also promote learning more generally.
Journal of Workplace Learning – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 23, 2010
Keywords: Learning; Health services; Elder care
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