Bringing Organizations Back into the Study of Education
By analyzing how and to what extent informal learning is structured by organizational factors, we explore both the social mechanisms behind the individual learning experience and the way organizations deal with learners.To access the complexity and plurality of informal learning environments and their impact on individual learning, we opted for a mixed methods design combining two types of qualitative data sets: First, we sampled twenty narrative interviews with German voluntary service participants. The interviews elicit information on the expectation framework of volunteers, typical learning situations in the host organization, and their contact to the wider organizational context (colleagues, superiors, and patients/clients). This database helped us to identify systematic variations in the organization’s impact on the individual capacity to recognize and take advantage of learning opportunities. Second, we performed a multi-site ethnography in two types of organizations: hospitals and care centers for people with disabilities.