How do you define a career? What would you say the “career” bit of careers education or careers guidance actually referred to? Just think for a moment what does the career bit actually mean? Most people have a rough working definition of this and in my experience, most people think that its personal and might not be that important in practice. I think that how we define career matters A LOT not necessarily because everyone should have the same definition or that some definitions are right and others are wrong BUT how we define career reveals certain realities about what we think careers is. Define career is a place where, knowingly or otherwise, we take a position on various issues. Let me give some examples.
Is it about work?
Most people think that career is in practice about paid work but is slightly more than that. It is how we string multiple paid work together both over time and at the same time. What I find interesting here is that this can normalise how society sees work as good and worklessness as bad and forms of labour which are sometimes looked down on such as caring, volunteering and cultural labour as less worthwhile.
Is it progressive?
We often think of a career as something which goes somewhere, as something which gets better over time. But we need to ask is this true of everyone or are we assuming that the opportunities of some people are available to everyone. Does our view of career exclude people who can not enjoy the good life that we live? Also, we need to ask if a life built on upward steps actually has that much value and meaning. Constantly striving more may just be a sign of dissatisfaction. Our lives sometimes find meaning in what we have now and not in the constant hope for more.
Is it about the individual?
Careers work is often prized on what it does for the individual but does this hide difficulties? Does this assume that work is the responsibility of the individual to gain and maintain? Do employers and the state have no responsibility here? Does this turn a career into a form of self-regulation which allows a certain form of politics to be pushed? Doe sit do enough to recognise the social lives we live in?
Hopefully, you can see from the above the way that definitions may create and hide difficulties that we would do way to think about.
This is day 20 of my 30 days of blogging challenge