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Clipboards and cups of tea: two women’s narrative constructions of professional identity in Sure Start outreach work

Davenport, Helen (2012) Clipboards and cups of tea: two women’s narrative constructions of professional identity in Sure Start outreach work. Early years: an international research journal, 32 (3). pp. 277-287. ISSN 0957-5146

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Abstract

Using stories from two employees in the UK Sure Start initiative, this paper offers insight into the complexity of developing a professional identity within a newly established, nebulous role of ‘outreach worker’. Such a role is highly diverse in terms of its duties and the people with whom it engages. As such, it poses challenges for individuals occupying the position, in terms of both populating their professional existence with meaning and locating the evaluative frameworks that provide this existence with a sense of value. Interviews were used to collect data on participants’ experience of working in the new post, their prior background and imagined futures. The study considers the relationship between biography, context and the way in which individuals story their professional selves. It attempts to utilise narrative theory to illuminate the dynamics within which these outreach workers exist, and methodologies they draw upon in order to inhabit their role meaningfully.

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