University of Sussex

File(s) not publicly available

Professional Knowledge and Learning at Work

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 20:38 authored by Michael Eraut
This paper argues that the roles of theory are diverse and the meanings of theories and concepts are shaped by the contexts in which they are acquired and used. Hence situated learning leads to divergent meanings created by people’s divergent work pathways, rather than the convergence assumed in the discourse of ‘communities of practice’. Understanding professional work requires both socio-cultural approaches to knowledge creation and the negotiation of what counts as competence and expertise, and individual or group perspectives on the development of knowledge in action. The holistic, context and case dependent, and often tacit nature of professional work can also be represented as an integrated combination of different types of knowledge, each developed over a lifetime learning trajectory. Such knowledge is acquired partly through processes whose prime intention is learning, but mainly through learning as a by-product of working. Thus the relationship between time, conditions and mode of cognition has major ramifications for professional knowledge and the nature of work. This research into the factors affecting learning and their interactions has led to a triangle of Learning Factors and a triangle of Context Factors that influence those learning factors: the corners of both triangles relate to the nature of the work, relationships at work and individual learners. Attached is a pre-publication version of the final paper.


Publication status

  • Published


Knowledge, Work &Society - Savoir, Travail et Société







Page range


Department affiliated with

  • Education Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Publications)


    No categories selected