Exploring careering : adrift on a sea of opportunity?

Waite, Helen and Faulconbridge, James and Greasley, Kay (2018) Exploring careering : adrift on a sea of opportunity? PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Career theory emphasises the central role of the individual by ascribing a high degree of personal choice and control to career experiences. In contrast, I advocate a theoretical understanding, which takes into account the significance of the context in which careers take place, including the influence of other people. My principal aim is to provide a deeper and richer understanding of the lived experience of careers, by exploring how and why change is experienced. A narrative based methodology is adopted to capture a broad range of experiences and change events within career stories. In providing a retrospective narrative of their personal stories, interviewees highlight elements of experiences of change which are meaningful and significant to their career. My findings reveal that whilst career experiences are frequently narrated by interviewees as unique, they are ‘uniquely the same’. The career stories highlight that perceived ‘uniqueness’ arises from unpredictability, and a lack of personal choice or control over, and within career experiences. This occurs due to the complex interplay of a broad range of personal, social and work-related contextual factors. Furthermore, explanations for the unanticipated and inadvertent ways in which careers evolve are frequently attributed to chance and luck. This thesis advances ‘careering’ as a theoretical and methodological construct, through which to study and comprehend the development of careers and explore how this unfolds over time, within the broader context of a person’s storied life. Careering provides a holistic perspective of careers, challenging the self-determinacy presented within existing career theory and draws attention to both the individual and contextual factors which give rise to opportunities and constraints within careers, overlooked within existing career literature. The focus on change in careering, renders visible ‘turning points’ between and within sequences of work, to reveal careering as chaotic, interrupted and seemingly out of control.

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Thesis (PhD)
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04 Jan 2019 09:05
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 05:43