Epistemic cultures among beginning professionals
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One of the key characteristics of professions is that they are knowledge based occupational groups. Professional education and training is therefore an essential element of professionalism. During the last 30-40 professional education in several “new professions” has moved from a “vocational” to an “academic” model. What are the implications of such academic drift for their preparation for working life? A central argument in the paper is that a greater emphasis on knowledge and epistemological cultures is needed to understand the challenges of professionalism in modern knowledge societies. Since knowledge never is fixed and complete, Knorr Cetinas (1997, 2001) perspectives on the unfolding dynamics of knowledge production is essential also in professional development. Professionalism implies connecting to knowledge which transcends a specific space and time. The paper examines the relationships between initial education and epistemic strategies among beginning professionals (nurses, teachers and social workers) and discusses the relevance of the perspectives presented above. Data are drawn from a longitudinal Database for studies of Recruitment and Qualifications in the Professions in Norway (StudData). Results indicate that there is a constructive relationship between what is learned in initial education and occupational life. Epistemological cultures developed during initial education relates significantly to beginning professionals epistemic strategies as well as their patterns for further professional development.