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The intersubjective production of Chilean early childhood educators: a free associative group exploration of the unconscious aspects of professional subjectivities

Lagos-Serrano, María José; (2021) The intersubjective production of Chilean early childhood educators: a free associative group exploration of the unconscious aspects of professional subjectivities. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis examines the production of early childhood (EC) educator subjectivities in Chile from a psychoanalytic perspective. Existing literature on EC professionalism has described how educators negotiate conflicting professional discourses; complying with standardised understandings of professionalism to legitimise their practice, while embracing the care dimension of EC education. While it has been suggested by critical scholarship that the EC workforce responds to these tensions by developing a unified professional identity, it is critical to foreground that EC educators constitute a complex, multidetermined type of professional subjectivity, whose experience of the struggles of the profession cannot be completely anticipated. Acknowledging the ambivalent, paradoxical and contradictory aspects of educators’ singular engagement with their practice, opens the opportunity to explore some of its underlying dynamics and motives. Drawing on the psychoanalytic concepts of the unconscious and free association, as well as my own professional interest in the potentialities of working with groups, I developed an innovative method to explore the unconscious aspects of these dynamics. I conducted free-associative group interviews with two groups of four EC educators each, using EC-related prompts like words and artefacts to stimulate their free associations and group discussions around their experience of EC practice. Free association’s tracing of transitory elements of discourse does not so much encourage the production of coherent narratives as destabilises them, thus opening a contingent space for new articulations of subjectivity. In the analysis chapters I explore the different types of discourse that emerged from particular group configurations, using the concepts of projective identification and intersubjective thirdness to make sense of the group dynamics that elicited these discourses. The intensified intersubjectivity of groups seemed to stimulate the mobilisation of unconscious affect, thus allowing to explore deep aspects of subjectivity. My analysis suggests that educators engage in the relational production of idealised professional identities, in order to find purpose and strength to navigate an emotionally demanding practice.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The intersubjective production of Chilean early childhood educators: a free associative group exploration of the unconscious aspects of professional subjectivities
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10122753
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