Phronesis is an international scientific journal devoted to the field of professionalization, particularly within “support occupations,” or occupations that are focused on other people. These education, care and advisory occupations, among others, are characterized by their relational nature; their activities are geared toward the production of services rather than goods. These activities share certain features, which are most often studied from a monodisciplinary perspective. In its approach to these many occupations, Phronesis is by contrast a resolutely interdisciplinary journal. The research it presents deals with these occupations’ learning approaches and their implementation, with various service activities, and with occupational objects. Far from being inert, these objects “react,” thereby situating the support occupations within the dynamic of a professional-client/beneficiary co-production. As a result, the activities that take place (involving “activities on the activities of others”) cannot be based on the sole expertise of one individual but rather involve a concern to vary and adapt action within a situation.
As a result, the relational occupations, probably more so than others, are subject to strong pressure, especially from institutional sources, to continually adapt their activities. This gives rise to a debate between “institutionalization” (the institutional definition of activity) and the “professionalization” of activity (the professional group’s definition and ownership of activity), in a context where the processes for promoting, designing and implementing training and/or work methods come under an intent to professionalize individuals within organizations or institutions. These methods and programs explicitly target the development of competencies and professional qualities that enable the social “production of professionals”; in other words, they target processes that will professionally develop individuals confronted with training and/or work situations. Indeed, individuals develop their learning and construct their professional identities in these situations, based on the idea that professionalization consists not only in the institutional offering of a method or program, but also in the often informal dynamic of learning that plays out within the work situation.
Overview of the journal, the editorial policy and its strategic direction
Traditional scientific research in the area of training and professionalization has fairly widely concentrated on industrial activities (for example, the sociology of work) and, only more recently and to a lesser extent, on human-related activities. The purpose of this journal is precisely to better understand the issues and forms of professionalization involved in human-related occupations, which are sometimes referred to as “support occupations.” The journal’s intent is first and foremost to promote the dissemination of new information attuned with the conceptual evolution taking place in the way such occupations are analyzed. In addition to presenting original research, the journal serves as a platform for debating related theoretical and conceptual questions with a view to fostering innovation. In this spirit, Phronesis is open to suggestions in the way of academic articles based on empirical investigation, but also theoretical texts, which may be the subject of special issues.
Background, mandate and current theme
Fundamentally speaking, the guiding theme of Phronesis emerged from a new way to conceive the analysis of support occupations, prompted by the emergence of interdisciplinarity, activity theories and situationist approaches. The journal has examined related issues since 2010 in the context of research activities led by the University of Sherbrooke’s Research Institute on Educational Practices, University Institute of Geriatrics, and International Monitoring Network on Professionalization. From its inception, the journal has therefore been located in a resolutely international perspective.