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The knowledge and decisions of professionals influence all facets of modern life, a fact reflected by the increasing and distinct emphasis on public accountability for what professionals know and do. The nature of this accountability has been fundamentally transformed in response to a changing context of market pressures, network arrangements, declining discretion and public trust, and public managerialism. To tackle these challenges, an important body of research has emerged which concentrates on the material elements and processes of professional learning, and considers how these affect wider society. This volume presents specific pressures on professionals' learning in different occupational contexts ranging from public school teaching to medicine and creative industry. These pressures are wrought by changing regulatory frameworks, changing modes of organising, changing demands and changing knowledge authorities in professional practice. The authors stress the importance of understanding these relations as sociomaterial webs through which the important moments of professional action and decisions emerge. This approach moves us beyond accepting 'learning' as an identifiable, individualist phenomenon by emphasising the multiplicities around professional practice 'standards' and 'quality', workarounds, responsibility, agency, and knowledge practices. As the chapters here demonstrate, sociomaterial perspectives raise new questions and methodologies that can highlight what is often invisible in the sometimes messy dynamics of professional learning, and point to new ways of promoting and supporting professional education. This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Education and Work.
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