Author(s):Miriam Abietar Lopez (presenting), Fernando Marhuenda, Esperanza Meri Crespo, Almudena Navas (presenting), Enrique Segrera Montalar

Conference:ECER 2016, Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers

Network:02. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)


Session Information

02 SES 06 B, Workplace Learning: development of identity

Paper Session


Room:Vet-Theatre 115

Chair:Marianne Teräs


How Did this Kiddo Get Here? Guidance Practices Underpinning the Construction of Subjectivity in Initial Vocational Training

In this paper we present a description of the practices of guidance in educational organizations that develop initial VET in Spain, that is, Formación Profesional Básica (FPB), aimed at those students situated in the category of school failure. We focus on to what extent discursive practices of counsellors, i.e. the contextual realizations, strengthen or undermine the expansion of the social positions of these students when they access FPB. In order to fulfil this objective we use the theoretical model of Group of Research on Education and Work (GRET) to analyse the educational transitions of these students considering the path they have done and the paths they may have after finishing the program (Casal, García, Merino y Quesada, 2006a, 2006b); and the theory of the pedagogic discourse of Basil Bernstein (1998) to describe and analyse the discursive practices of counsellors. The combination of both theoretical approaches allows us to understand to what extent attending in a specific educational organization facilitates or hinders social integration.

The reforms of the educational system and, more precisely, of their curricula are primarily a question linked to the construction of identities that are officially pursued in a normative context. The reflection on the reforms and their effects therefore supposes the attempt to describe the meaning of the regulations ant the attempts to build a space that allows to observe changes in the moral, cultural or even economic field. The several reforms performed since the 1990s in the insertion policies (Castel, 1997) aimed at the professional orientation of those students at-risk of social exclusion are our research interest as they allow as to understand the identities that are constructed, that is, offered to those students in regard to the achievement of a social integration, that should be one of the main aims of the educational institution.

Our work is framed within the European project Application of Apprenticeship in the Vocational Integration of the Socially Disadvantaged Youth (APPRENTSOD), that has analysed several training experiences considering the effect it may have for the social inclusion of young students in a situation of social disadvantage. To do this, policies for employment and social inclusion of Germany, Lithuania, Italy and Spain have been revised, as well as the options each of these countries have to offer a practical training, primarily in work contexts, such as work internships or apprenticeship contracts. Furthermore, several high schools and social or local entities that are distinguished by their attention to the youth population in a situation of social disadvantage have been studied (Saniter y Bücker, 2014).

In this theoretical and research framework, the study conducted had as main aim analysing the selection and incorporation of young students to Initial VET programs, and to what extent these processes and the programs themselves contribute to the construction of certain identities. By identities we refer to the subjectivities reproduced through institutionalized practices in educational relationships. Thus, we take the concept of identity developed by Basil Bernstein (1998) who defines it as the result of embedding a career in a collective base. The student’s career is a knowledge career, a moral career and a locational career. Although we won’t go in depth into the different identities proposed by the author, we would like to emphasize precisely that the students career is closely related to these three facts (knowledge, moral and location) that are developed in specific educational contexts. By describing and analysing the discursive practices of counsellors in different organizations considering these three elements of pedagogical identity, we expect to find out how subjectivities are constructed in the pedagogical relationship established between students and counsellors in Initial VET.


The research presented in this paper has been conducted in the city of Valencia (Spain). This city meets representative conditions of the Spanish state, as it is the third city in the country considering population size and it also represents the social changes of the post-industrial society in Spain (Pitarch y Uceda, 2012). In Valencia, the initial VET programs are specified into Formación Profesional Básica (FPB) and Programas Formativos de Cualificación Básica (PFCB). The first one lasts for two academic years, while the latter last one year. Both of them are aimed at those students with a previous educative path of failure, that is, for those students that have not obtained the Certificate on Compulsory Education. Moreover, the certificate obtained is in both programs related to the first level of professional qualification, considering the European Qualification Framework.

Due to educational and political changes these programs where implemented for the first time in the academic year 2014/2015. Despite the lack of time and resources to develop the program, 26 educational organizations in Valencia developed these programs, 16 of them were public organizations and 10 of them are private. Considering all of them, finally 35 programs of 9 professional families were provided. After communicating with all the centres in different moments of the academic year, finally our study sample was 10 public and 7 private organizations for the program FPB, and 4 public and 3 private for the PFCB.

In each organization we have interviewed members of the management team, teachers and counsellors, although in this paper we focus on the counsellors practices. All the interviews (45 in FPB and 18 in PFCB) had the same structure, which was designed on the basis of the bernstenian concept of classification (Bernstein, 1998). We have analysed the discourse of the different professional profiles using the program Atlas.ti. Relating to the aim of our research, the interview and the analysis are both focused on describing the identity constructed by the different profiles in the organizations. In addition, the students have answered a questionnaire where they described their educational path and also the expectations they have for their professional and educational paths after finishing the program (FPB or PFCB). These questionnaires have been analysed statistically with the program SPSS.

Expected Outcomes

Having this theoretical position and considering the research conducted, the expected outcomes are, on the one hand, the detailed description of different guidance practices, that is, the contextual realizations of the discursive practices of counsellors in several educational organizations. In the other hand, we expect to relate these modalities to the identities that are developed in these contexts. Therefore, we also expect as outcomes the description of the pedagogical identities reproduced in these programs. Bearing in mind the bernstenian definition of pedagogical identity (knowledge, moral and position) we intend to describe identities not only in terms of the knowledge transmitted in these educational contexts, but also focusing on how the students are differentially positioned in the social order.

Having both the description of the guidance practices and the pedagogical identities constructed in the programs, we will relate them with the answers of the students in the questionnaire they replied, focusing mainly in their expectations about their situation once they finish the program. Considering that their educational previous paths are strongly linked with experiences of failure, we expect to find out which guidance practices and the pedagogical identities constructed may contribute to change the students situation in the educational system and, by extension, in the social order.


Bernstein, B. (1998). Pedagogía, control simbólico e identidad. Teoría, investigación crítica. Madrid: Ediciones Morata.

Casal, J., García, M., Merino, R. y Quesada, M. (2006a). Changes in forms of transition in contexts of informational capitalism. Papers, 79, 195-223. Retrieved from

Casal, J., García, M., Merino, R. y Quesada, M. (2006b). Aportaciones teóricas y metodológicas a la sociología de la juventud desde la perspectiva de la transición. Papers, 79, 21-48. Retrieved from

Castel, R. (1997). La metamorfosis de la cuestión social: una crónica del salariado. Barcelona: Paidós.
Marhuenda-Fluixá, F., Salvà-Mut, F., Navas-Saurin, A. A. y Abiétar-López, M. (2015). Twenty Years of Basic Vocational Education Provision in Spain: Changes and Trends. International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training, 2(2), 137-151. doi:10.13152/IJRVET.2.2.8.

Pitarch Garrido, M. D. y Uceda i Maza, F. X. (2012). Territorio, vulnerabilidad social y trayectoria delictiva en adolescentes de la ciudad de Valencia. Paper presented at the XII Congreso de la Población Española, Santander, España. Retrieved from

Saniter, A. y Bücker, L. (2014). Comparative Analysis of Measures, Approaches and Case Studies of Vocational Integration of the Socially Disadvantaged Youth in Italy, Germany, Spain and Lithuania. In

Author Information

Miriam Abietar Lopez (presenting)
Universitat de Valencia
Fernando Marhuenda
Universitat de València
Didàctica i Organització Escolar
Esperanza Meri Crespo
Universitat de Valencia, Spain
Almudena Navas (presenting)
University of Valencia
Enrique Segrera Montalar
Universitat de Valencia, Spain