Professional Knowledge

This literature review is produced as part of an EU Sixth Framework Programme research project entitled Professional Knowledge in Education and Health: Restructuring work and life between the state and the citizens in Europe. It aims to present research from seven European countries on restructuring in education and health care and the implications for the professional knowledge of teachers and nurses.

We have come to see how the different national trajectories in health and education partly explain the political diversity of responses seen after and during the debates surrounding the European Constitution (EU Summit 16-17 June in Brussels). The crisis in Europe sparked by the failure to ratify the EU Constitution can be read as a profound conflict over restructuring between those who favour the 'Anglo-Saxon' model with liberalisation of markets, long-working hours and flexible employment against those who favour the continental model with its more regulated labour markets.

Literature from Northern European welfare states (Sweden and Finland) is compared with that from Southern European welfare states (Greece, Portugal and Spain) and satellite countries (England and Ireland). The Northern European social democratic outlook is contrasted with the Southern European subsistence model with its increased reliance on social capital. Meanwhile, Ireland appears to be an anomaly, situated in the North but having retained its religious heritage and high levels of social capital while England can be seen as the advance guard of the Neo-Liberal zeitgeist in Europe.

An international research review of professions, professional knowledge and welfare restructuring finds there is disagreement in the literature over the extent of convergence of welfare provision internationally and within Europe. Periodised summaries of literature on the histories of the restructuring of education and health care systems of ProfKnow consortium members demonstrate the varied development of the teaching and nursing professions over time. These dramatically different trajectories for the North and South and offshore states highlight how professional knowledge is deeply dependent on national and local contexts. The variety is greatest in the periods 1945 - 1995. However in the period following 1980 but with increasing force since 1995 a Neo-Liberal convergence in patterns across Europe can be evidenced at the level of government discourse.

This literature review is the first deliverable work package (WP1) of the project and will be followed by national case studies (WP2), surveys of teachers and nurses (WP3) and qualitative data collection in the form of life history interviews and ethnographic work (WP4 and 5). The life history interviews will be inter-generational with the aim of uncovering information about how teaching and nursing professional personas have changed over time and so elicit information about how restructuring is influencing professionals and their knowledge.

After an international research review of professions, professional knowledge and welfare state restructuring, periodised national literature reviews will be presented. Next issues or trends of restructuring will be identified and analysed across the ProfKnow consortium countries. Finally literature on the implications of restructuring for professions and the professional knowledge of teachers and nurses will be examined. Education will be examined first and then Health care.

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