Perceptions of influence by social actors on professional doctoral students: a nested case study’s methodological use of sociograms

PhD Thesis

Leith, L. 2021. Perceptions of influence by social actors on professional doctoral students: a nested case study’s methodological use of sociograms . PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Humanities and Educational Services
AuthorsLeith, L.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctorate of Education

Social influence is an important part of human relationships and people’s daily interactions (Turner 2005) and causes changes in attitude, values, emotions, behaviour, and actions.

This interpretive study explores the social influence perceptions and experiences of eleven professional individuals. It analyses who their influencers were and how they affected participants’ decisions and actions to engage in a professional doctorate.

Turner’s (2005) concept of social power through others and Broome’s (2009) philosophical concept of reasoned judgement, motivation and action were used to understand how the participants’ social interactions affected their actions.

Research participants were professional doctorate students at various stages of their study. Each professional participated in semi-structured interviews and completed a sociogram to explore the effects of social influence. Template analysis, a form of thematic analysis, was selected to analyse data because this approach supported the development of multiple iterations as new themes emerged, allowing other themes to be changed or deleted.

The findings highlight how friends’ and families’ influential skills signposted doctoral study and the ways they used social power to encourage, challenge or dissuade professionals from engaging in a doctorate. An unexpected finding was the significant effect authoritative parents had on adult children with established careers and the way these parents’ education expectations affected their children’s doctoral engagement.

The findings also identified how professional colleagues’ status, expert voice and in-group membership were important influences, as participants aspired to attain the same status and expert voice as their colleagues and become influential professional practice advocates.

The research makes an original contribution to knowledge and PD practice as it illustrates the perceptions of how family, friends, and professional colleagues used influential strategies and the effect this had on professional doctoral students’ personal and professional decisions and actions.

KeywordsSocial influence; Perceptions ; Professional doctoral students
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Deposited06 Aug 2021
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