Advertisement

Context-Resonant Systems Perspectives in Career Theory

Chapter
Part of the International and Cultural Psychology book series (ICUP)

Abstract

The focus of this chapter is on context-resonant systems perspectives in career theory and their implications for practice in diverse cultural and contextual settings. For over two decades, the potential of systems theory to offer a context-resonant approach to career development has been acknowledged. Career development theory and practice, however, have been dominated for most of their history by more narrowly defined theories informed by a trait-and-factor tradition of matching the characteristics of individuals to occupations. In contrast, systems theory challenges this parts-in-isolation approach and offers a response that can accommodate the complexity of both the lives of individuals and the world of the 21st century by taking a more holistic approach that considers individuals in context.

These differences in theory and practice may be attributed to the underlying philosophies that inform them. For example, the philosophy informing the trait-and-factor theoretical position, logical positivism, places value on: studying individuals in isolation from their environments; content over process; facts over feelings; objectivity over subjectivity; and views individual behavior as observable, measurable, and linear. In practice, this theory base manifests in expert-driven practices founded on the assessment of personal traits such as interests, personality, values, or beliefs which may be matched to particular occupations. The philosophy informing more recent theoretical positions, constructivism, places value on: studying individuals in their contexts; making meaning of experience through the use of subjective narrative accounts; and a belief in the capacity of individuals known as agency. In practice, this theory base manifests in practices founded on collaborative relationships with clients, narrative approaches, and a reduced emphasis on expert-driven linear processes. Thus, the tenets of constructivism which inform the systems perspectives in career theory are context-resonant.

Systems theory stresses holism where the interconnectedness of all elements of a system is considered. Systems may be open or closed. Closed systems have no relationship with their external environment whereas open systems interact with their external environment and are open to external influence which is necessary for regeneration. Congruent with general systems theory, the systems perspectives emerging within career theory are based on open systems. Such systems are complex and dynamic and comprise many elements and subsystems which recursively interact with each other as well as with influences from the surrounding environment. As elements of a system should not be considered in isolation, a systems approach is holistic. Patterns of behavior are found in the relationships between the elements of dynamic systems. Because of the multiplicity of relationships within and between elements of subsystems, the possibility of linear causal explanations is reduced. Story is the mechanism through which the relationships and patterns within systems are recounted by individuals. Thus the career guidance practices emanating from theories informed by systems perspectives are inherently narrative in orientation.

Narrative career counseling encourages career development to be understood from the subjective perspective of clients. The application of systemic thinking in practice takes greater account of context. In so doing, practices informed by systems theory may facilitate relevance to a diverse client group in diverse settings. In a world that has become increasingly global and diverse it seems that context-resonant systems perspectives in career theory are essential to ensure the future of career development. Translating context-resonant systems perspectives into practice offers important possibilities for methods and approaches that are respectful of diversity.

Keywords

Career Development General System Theory Career Theory Developmental System Theory Philosophical Underpinning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Amundson, N. (2005). The potential impact of global changes in work for career theory and practice. International Journal of Educational and Vocational Guidance, 5, 91–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amundson, N. E. (2009). Active engagement (3rd ed.). Richmond, BC, Canada: Ergon Communications.Google Scholar
  3. Arthur, N., & McMahon, M. (2005). Multicultural career counseling: Theoretical applications of the systems theory framework. Career Development Quarterly, 53, 208–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bimrose, J. (2008). Guidance with women. In J. Athanasou & R. van Esbroeck (Eds.), International handbook of career guidance (1st ed., pp. 375–404). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blustein, D. L. (2001). Extending the reach of vocational psychology: Toward an inclusive and integrative psychology of working. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 59, 171–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blustein, D. L. (2006). The psychology of working. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  7. Bordin, E. S. (1994). Intrinsic motivation and the active self: Convergence from a psychodynamic perspective. In M. L. Savickas & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Convergence in career development theories (pp. 53–62). Palo Alto, CA: CPP Books.Google Scholar
  8. Bright, J. E. H., & Pryor, R. G. L. (2005). The chaos theory of careers: A user’s guide. Career Development Quarterly, 53(4), 291–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Brown, D. (2002a). Introduction to theories of career development and choice. Origins, evolution, and current efforts. In D. Brown & Associates (Ed.), Career choice and development (4th ed., pp. 3–23). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.Google Scholar
  11. Brown, D. (2002b). The role of work values and cultural values in occupational choice, satisfaction, and success: A theoretical statement. In D. Brown & Associates (Ed.), Career choice and development (4th ed., pp. 465–509). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.Google Scholar
  12. Brown, D., & Associates. (2002). Career choice and development (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  13. Chen, C. P. (2003). Integrating perspectives in career development theory and practice. Career Development Quarterly, 51, 203–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cochran, L. (1997). Career counseling: A narrative approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Collin, A. (1986). Career development: The significance of the subjective career. Personnel Review, 15(2), 22–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cook, E. P., Heppner, M. J., & O’Brien, K. M. (2002a). Feminism and women’s career development: An ecological perspective. In S. G. Niles (Ed.), Adult career development: Concepts, issues and practices (3rd ed., pp. 168–189). Alexandria, VA: National Career Development Association.Google Scholar
  17. Cook, E. P., Heppner, M. J., & O’Brien, K. M. (2002b). Career development of women of color and white women: Assumptions, conceptualization, and interventions from an ecological perspective. Career Development Quarterly, 50, 291–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Coutinho, M. T., Dam, U. C., & Blustein, D. L. (2008). The psychology of working and globalisation: A new perspective for a new era. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 8, 5–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ford, M. E. (1992). Motivating humans: Goals, emotions, and personal agency beliefs. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  20. Ford, M. E., & Ford, D. H. (Eds.). (1987). Humans as self-constructing living systems: Putting the framework to work. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  21. Ford, D. H., & Lerner, R. M. (1992). Developmental systems theory: An integrative approach. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  22. Granvold, D. K. (1996). Constructivist psychotherapy. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Human Services, 77, 345–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Holland, J. L. (1997). Making vocational choices: A theory of vocational personalities and work environments (3rd ed.). Odessa, FL: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  24. Krumboltz, J. D., & Nichols, C. W. (1990). Integrating the social learning theory of career decision making. In W. B. Walsh & S. H. Osipow (Eds.), Career counseling: Contemporary topics in vocational psychology (pp. 159–192). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  25. McMahon, M. (2005). Career counseling: Applying the Systems Theory Framework of career development. Journal of Employment Counseling, 42(1), 29–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McMahon, M., & Patton, W. (1995). Development of a systems theory of career development. Australian Journal of Career Development, 4, 15–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McMahon, M., Patton, W., & Watson, M. (2005a). The My System of Career Influences (MSCI) facilitators’ guide. Camberwell, Australia: ACER Press.Google Scholar
  28. McMahon, M., Patton, W., & Watson, M. (2005b). The My System of Career Influences (MSCI): Reflecting on my career decisions. Camberwell, Australia: ACER Press.Google Scholar
  29. McMahon, M., & Watson, M. (2008). Systemic influences on career development: Assisting clients to tell their career stories. Career Development Quarterly, 56, 280–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McMahon, M., & Watson, M. (2010). Story telling: Moving from thin stories to thick and rich stories. In K. Maree (Ed.), Career counselling: Methods that work (pp. 53–63). Cape Town, South Africa: Juta.Google Scholar
  31. McMahon, M., Watson, M., Chetty, C., & Hoelson, C. (2012a). Examining process constructs of narrative career counselling: An exploratory case study. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 40, 127–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McMahon, M., Watson, M., Chetty, C., & Hoelson, C. (2012b). Story telling, career assessment and career counselling: A higher education case study. South African Journal of Higher Education, 26(4), 729–741.Google Scholar
  33. McMahon, M., Watson, M., & Patton, W. (2013a). The My System of Career Influences Adult Version (MSCI Adult): A reflection process. Facilitators’ Guide Brisbane, Australia: Australian Academic Press.Google Scholar
  34. McMahon, M., Watson, M., & Patton, W. (2013b). The My System of Career Influences Adult Version (MSCI Adult): A reflection process. Brisbane, Australia: Australian Academic Press.Google Scholar
  35. McMahon, M., & Yuen, M. (2010). Internationalisation and career counselling. Asian Journal of Counselling, 16(2), 91–112.Google Scholar
  36. Nyoni, A. (2010). Systemic influences in the career development of low socio-economic status black South African adolescents (Unpublished B. Psych treatise). Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa.Google Scholar
  37. Osipow, S. H. (1983). Theories of career development (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  38. Parsons, F. (1909). Choosing a vocation. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  39. Patton, W. (2008). Recent developments in career theories: The influences of constructivism and convergence. In J. Athanasou & R. Van Esbroeck (Eds.), International handbook of career guidance (pp. 133–156). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Patton, W., & McMahon, M. (1997). Career development in practice: A systems theory perspective. Sydney, NSW, Australia: New Hobsons Press.Google Scholar
  41. Patton, W., & McMahon, M. (1999). Career development and systems theory: A new relationship. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  42. Patton, W., & McMahon, M. (2006). Career development and systems theory: Connecting theory and practice. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  43. Peavy, R. V. (1998). Sociodynamic counselling: A constructivist perspective. Victoria, BC, Canada: Trafford.Google Scholar
  44. Pryor, R. G. L., & Bright, J. E. H. (2011). The chaos theory of careers: A new perspective on working in the twenty-first century. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  45. Roberts, K. (2005). Social class, opportunity structures and career guidance. In B. Irving & B. Malik (Eds.), Critical reflections on career education and guidance (pp. 130–142). London, UK: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ryan, C. W., & Tomlin, J. H. (2010). Infusing systems thinking into career counseling. Journal of Employment Counseling, 47, 79–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Savickas, M. L. (1995). Current theoretical issues in vocational psychology: Convergence, divergence, and schism. In W. B. Walsh & S. H. Osipow (Eds.), Handbook of vocational psychology (pp. 1–34). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  48. Savickas, M. L. (2005). The theory and practice of career construction. In S. D. Brown & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Career development and counseling: Putting theory and research to work (pp. 42–70). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  49. Savickas, M. L., & Lent, R. W. (Eds.). (1994). Convergence in career development theories: Implications for science and practice. Palo Alto, CA: CPP Books.Google Scholar
  50. Savickas, M. L., Nota, L., Rossier, J., Dauwalder, J.-P., Duarte, M. E., Guichard, J., … van Vianen, A. E. M. (2009). Life designing: A paradigm for career construction in the 21st century. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 75, 239–250.Google Scholar
  51. Stead, G. B., & Watson, M. B. (Eds.). (2006). Career psychology in the South Africa context (2nd ed., pp. 13–34). Pretoria, South Africa: Van Schaik.Google Scholar
  52. Super, D. E. (1953). A theory of vocational development. American Psychologist, 8, 185–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Super, D. E. (1957). The psychology of careers. New York, NY: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  54. Super, D. E. (1992). Toward a comprehensive theory of career development. In D. H. Montross & C. J. Shinkman (Eds.), Career development: Theory and practice (pp. 35–64). Springfield, IL: Charles Thomas.Google Scholar
  55. Szymanski, E. M., & Hershenson, D. B. (1997). Career development of people with disabilities: An ecological model. In R. M. Parker & E. M. Szymanski (Eds.), Rehabilitation counseling: Basics and beyond (3rd ed., pp. 327–378). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.Google Scholar
  56. Van Esbroeck, R. (2008). Career guidance in a global world. In J. A. Athanasou & R. Van Esbroeck (Eds.), International handbook of career guidance (pp. 23–44). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. von Bertalanffy, L. (1934). Modern theories of development. UK: Oxford University Press. (German original: von Bertalanffy, L. (1928). Kritische Theorie der Formbildung. Berlin: Borntraeger.)Google Scholar
  58. von Bertalanffy, L. (1968). General system theory. New York, NY: George Braziller.Google Scholar
  59. Vondracek, F. W., & Kawasaki, T. (1995). Toward a comprehensive framework for adult career development theory and intervention. In W. B. Walsh & S. H. Osipow (Eds.), Handbook of vocational psychology (2nd ed., pp. 111–141). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  60. Vondracek, F. W., Lerner, R. M., & Schulenberg, J. E. (1986). Career development: A life-span developmental approach. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  61. Watson, M. (2010). Transitioning contexts of career psychology in South Africa. Asian Journal of Counselling, 16(2), 133–148.Google Scholar
  62. Watson, M., & McMahon, M. (2009). Career counseling in South African higher education: Moving forward systemically and qualitatively. South African Journal of Higher Education, 23(3), 470–481.Google Scholar
  63. Watson, M., & McMahon, M. (2014). Making meaning of quantitative assessment in career counseling through a story telling approach. In G. Arulmani, A. J. Bakshi, F. T. L. Leong, & A. G. Watts (Eds.), Handbook of career development. New York, NY: Springer.Google Scholar
  64. Yuen, M. (2011). Understanding Chinese female college studentscareer construction: The use of My System of Career Influences (MSCI) in Hong Kong. (Unpublished manuscript).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Education, The University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyNelson Mandela Metropolitan UniversityPort ElizabethSouth Africa
  3. 3.Faculty of Education, Queensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations