Learning on work placement: The narrative development of social competence

Kyoko Murakami, Linda Murray, David Sims, Katy Chedzey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (SciVal)


This paper explores the development of social competence by examining examples of research interviews conducted with 35 British undergraduate students on work placements. Work placement schemes are a characteristic of contemporary higher education, which is particularly geared towards students' development of employability and transferable skills. Among these skills is that of social competence which is often taken for granted as emerging from normative adult developmental processes. Research on social competence is mostly confined to developmental psychology and focused on studying children and adolescents in their social settings. Moreover, the methodology of social competence is often developed from a child-developmental perspective, neglecting the situation-specific development beyond childhood. The paper argues that social competence is examinable as situated discursive practice and that it is essential to understanding career development. Membership categorisation analysis identifies the participant's fluid positioning in narrating experiences of work and university. Lastly the paper addresses implications for theories of development and learning and considers ways in which this study can be expanded in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-24
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Adult Development
Issue number1
Early online date20 Oct 2008
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


  • Discourse analysis
  • Learning
  • Membership category
  • Social competence
  • Work placement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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