Research Output
'Powers, passages and passengers' : the construction and performance of student midwives' professional identities
  This thesis details my study of the discourses within which student midwives construct and perform their professional identities. The title employs a metaphor commonly used in midwifery and obstetric texts to articulate the powers, passages and passengers involved in labour and birth. I use it allegorically as a metaphor for the 'powers' of policy, the 'passages' of professional learning, and the students as 'passengers' therein. The key words for consideration are construction, performance, identities and discourses. 'Construction' uses 'small stories and positioning analysis' theorised by Bamberg and Georgakopoulou (2008). Analysis orientates through three levels, from locally constructed contexts of self to wider socio-cultural perspectives. 'Performance' uses visual analysis and 'micro-dramas', which I developed as part of this thesis; enabling me to investigate how identity is produced in conjunction with the material objects that constitute practice. 'Identities' uses sociolinguistic perspectives proposed by Bucholtz and Hall (2005, p. 585), defined as 'the social positioning of the self and other'. Finally, 'discourses' are explored using Fairclough's discourse analysis (1992). Here I examine how policy shapes midwives' identities and creates preferred 'subject positions' for midwives to adopt. Each element of analysis combines to surface the ways in which these positions are taken up or resisted by the student midwives (n=16), in relation to policy and their own small stories and micro-dramas. I conclude with three important contributions to the literature. The first relates to discursive constructions of 'midwives' and the significance that this has for the development of midwifery education and practice. Second, is the extension of knowledge relative to midwives' emergent professional identities. This comes during a time of unprecedented interest in the professional status of NHS workers and is therefore important to both current and future understandings of who midwives are and what they do. Finally, I propose a new methodology for exploring identity constructions and performances relative to small stories using gesture and material artefacts.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    21 June 2021

  • Publication Status:


  • Funders:

    Historic Funder (pre-Worktribe)


McLuckie, C. (2021). 'Powers, passages and passengers' : the construction and performance of student midwives' professional identities. (Thesis). University of Stirling. Retrieved from



Professional identity; Student midwives; Policy analysis; Professional standards; Positioning analysis; Small stories; Discourse analysis; Micro-dramas; Gesture and methodology; Gesture and identity; Discursive constructions of midwives; Construction and performance of identities; Midwifery education; Norman Fairclough; Michel Foucault; Professional learning; Midwifery--Training of

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