Achieving integrity : a study of the stories of six social work teachers in Mainland China on their identity formation

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Achieving integrity : a study of the stories of six social work teachers in Mainland China on their identity formation

 

Author: Fok, Siu Ling
Title: Achieving integrity : a study of the stories of six social work teachers in Mainland China on their identity formation
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2016
Subject: Social workers -- China.
Social work education -- China.
Crisis intervention (Mental health services) -- China -- Sichuan Sheng.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: xvi, 345 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2929094
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/8776
Abstract: The study aims at capturing the stories of a group of Sichuan, China social work teachers' identity formation process in a particular historical and social context from 2008-2014. Narrative inquiry was adopted as the methodology, based on its underpinning conceptions on self and identity, on human goals and action, choice making and on life and self-formation as a whole. The research process was guided by an inquiry framework proposed by Clandinin & Connelly (2007, 2013) who constructed a three-dimensional inquiry space: temporality (the continuity of past, present and future); sociality (the interaction and relationship between inner personal and outer factors) and place (the contextual and physical location) as well as the four directions in the research process. They are inward, (respondents' personal, inner, dispositional factors) outward, (environmental and contextual factors) forward (future anticipation and commitment) and backward (retrospective reviews on experiences and critical events). The basic assumptions on identity formation and integrity are summarized as followed: The individual's sense of identity is an autobiographical process; it is an interaction between inner and outer, personal and social factors. Identity formation is both a temporal and developmental process. In the study, it is assumed that participation in CoP (Community of Practice) initiated the process of identification and on-going negotiation. The construction of the social work teacher identity can be conceptualized in the trajectory stages of engagement, imagination and alignment (Wenger, 2000). In the narrative inquiry process, respondents are invited to recollect and reorganize the chronicles from 2008-2014. It is a personal and collective reflexive exercise to understand lived experiences, human action and interpretation. Integrity is achieved through awareness and acceptance of the dynamics between tension and motivational forces, and interplay of different layers of selfhood. Conscious integration and alignment is an on-going process to consolidate identity formation and to achieve further professional integrity and maturity.
In completion of an in-depth analysis of the six stories, it is found out that the transformational changes experienced by the respondents very much assembled the trajectory framework of a hero's journey. They left what is known and comfortable, then encountered novelty, challenges and assistance; finally, they overcome barriers, experienced transformation and returned with a new self. Integrity achieved at personal level where they have to address and balance the struggles and tensions brought forth by the opposite poles of their selves. Seven discoveries about their experiences in the journey are highlighted. They are (1) A new temporal identity; (2) Fourteen pairs of polarities in the storied selves; (3) Disciplinary background leading to a different path; (4) Practice as the entrance gate leading to a professional inquiry process; (5) "Relatedness" as a core professional experience and ideological concept; (6) Environmental Threats and Opportunities and (7) The triple-role of teacher identity. These findings can be summarized in the three concepts of mutability, multiplicity and hybridity. The study is ground-breaking work that captures the stories and voices of individual social work teachers in China. The findings confirmed the identity awakening and consolidation that were brought forth by active engagement in community learning and practice. It confirmed also the power and efficacy of collaborative inquiry and collective professional action. Although these findings are captured among a small group of respondents in Sichuan, the observations and general rules identified related with the concepts of mutability, multiplicity and hybridity can be applied to the professional and individual situations in other places in China; and the experiences of the respondents can be transferred as a practice and learning model for other social work teachers and professional leaders.

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