Fire and Water combined: Understanding the Relevance of Working Life Studies through a Concept of Practical Activity
Keywords:Health, working environment & wellbeing, Learning & compentencies, Identity, meaning & culture
AbstractWhen I presented the basic ideas of this paper at a conference, a Swedish colleague commented: ‘you manage to combine water and fire.’ I understood his kind comment to mean that he used water and fire as metaphors for practice and theory. The comment puzzled me for a while. Water and fire obviously destroy each other, or at least radically transform each other. Then I realized that humans have actually managed to combine water and fire in several ways. One solution is the kettle. It makes possible to use fire in a controlled way for the human purpose of boiling water. Thus, this paper can be taken as an attempt at offering a kettle-like vehicle for bringing together practicetheoretical concepts and vocational practice. My kettle is a concept of practical activity. I am trying to boil up an answer to the following question: in what senses a study of work can be practically relevant to those who are doing the work being studied?
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