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Social representations of career: anchored in the past, conflicting with the future
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Lifelong learning/Encell.
2013 (English)In: Papers on Social Representations, ISSN 1021-5573, E-ISSN 1819-3978, Vol. 22, no 1, 14.1-14.27 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Various issues surrounding career are part of people's everyday lives, so people have a kind of common sense knowledge of career. Although the meaning of ‘career’ is often taken for granted, mixed messages and the lack of a conceptual definition blur our understanding of career, especially in times of societal and contextual change. Social representation theory (SRT) responds well to the theoretical and methodological needs of this study, which explores social representations of career among a group of people in a context of changing working life conditions. Free association was the method used for collecting the empirical data for this study. The content of social representations is inductively and thematically explored to then disclose within which scientifically shaped thoughts on career the empirical findings are reflected and seems to be anchored, and how these representations relate to thoughts currently dominating on the structural level in today’s changing society. The exploration resulted in two stable and two more dynamic social representations concerning career: career as individual project and self-realization; career as social/hierarchical climbing; career as a game of exchange; and career as an uncertain outcome. The respondents’ common sense knowledge of career appears to be reflected and anchored in past working life conditions and in scientific perspectives that no longer correspond to those now dominating at the structural level. This indicates a discrepancy between that which is socially represented among people and that which is communicated within the new conditions of working life.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 22, no 1, 14.1-14.27 p.
Keyword [en]
social representations, career, stability, change, free association, themata
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-22655OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-22655DiVA: diva2:677328
Available from: 2013-12-09 Created: 2013-12-09 Last updated: 2015-03-27Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Social representations of career and career guidance in the changing world of working life
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social representations of career and career guidance in the changing world of working life
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis explores the meaning of career as a phenomenon and its implication for career guidance. In 1996, career as a phenomenon was more or less considered to be an obsolete or even extinct phenomenon. Since then, career guidance has received increased attention along with the increased interest in lifelong learning strategies. This thesis is motivated by the paradoxical message of career as an extinct yet living phenomenon. Career is outlined as a bridging issue that involves several contexts and is characterized by a number of dominating discourses in tension with one another. Two educational fields linked by career are of particular interest: the field of education and training in working life and the educational field of career guidance counselling. This thesis explores the meaning of career among a triad of various interested parties in this time of transition in the world of working life, and it explores the sense in which such understanding(s) of career influence policies and practices of career guidance. The thesis is based upon four separate studies. The first study explores, in order to disclose underlying views on career, how the language of European policy documents on career guidance characterize career and career development. Qualitative content analysis is used as the basic method to approach the subject in the texts, with an inductive development of categories. The analysis then conducts a sender-oriented interpretation, based upon a textual model for analyzing documents. The results revealed that underlying perspective on career in the documents derive from economic perspective, learning perspective and political science perspective, and communicate career as subordinated to market forces. The second study pays attention to the receiving side of the ideational message, disclosed in the first study. The second study extends the analysis of the first study with an exploration of ethical declaration documents for the profession. The exploration focuses on significant key principles, the profession's role and mission, and significant changes between the initial and the revised ethical declaration. Similarities and differences were compared, combined with the first study’s results as an interpretive frame for analyzing what consequences and significance the core meaning of career at structural level will have for career guidance practice. The results revealed an implicit shift of emphasis in the career guidance mission, which creates uncertainty regarding on behalf of whom the guidance counsellor is working. The third study explores common-sense knowledge of career, among a group of people influenced by changing conditions in working life. This study explores what social representations people have about career. The study also explores how people's anchored thoughts reflect scientifically shaped thoughts, and how they relate to thoughts currently dominating on structural level. Results disclose how the group explored has stable social representations of career that are anchored in the past, in previous working life conditions, and that contrasts with perspectives dominating in the structural context. The group also has dynamic representations, which provide space for negotiation of the meaning of career. The fourth study explores guidance counsellors' social representations of their mission and of careertherein. Results generated four social representations expressed in argumentative pairs of opposites. The first pair is concerned with their professional mission and reveal their professional identity. The second is concerned with career. Their view on their mission and their professional identity is in sharp contrast with how they experience others' interpretation of their mission, as being a matching practice on behalf of the business sector. Guidance counsellors reject the general view of career among others' and they regard career in the context of guidance as something other than the common view. At the same time guidance counsellors reveal difficulties in really clarifying the meaning they ascribe to career. The empirical findings of each of the four studies are finally interpreted as a whole in the final section of this thesis. With support from social representations theory, the empirical findings illuminate the sources as bearers of social representations of career, which both meet and clash.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Jönköping: Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, 2015. 138 p.
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar från Högskolan för lärande och kommunikation, ISSN 1652-7933 ; 28
Keyword
Career, career development, career guidance, career guidance practice, educational and vocational guidance, guidance counselling, changing world of working life, European policy, lifelong learning, human resource strategies, human resource profession, social representations, document analysis, free associations method, qualitative content analysis, subjective career, objective career
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-26292 (URN)978-91-628-9308-8 (ISBN)978-91-628-9309-5 (ISBN)
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-03-27 Created: 2015-03-27 Last updated: 2015-03-27Bibliographically approved

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