Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will? Troubling the relationship between career guidance and social justice

Abstract

Career guidance claims a lineage to ‘modernity’, where individuals carve dignified lives for themselves, irrespective of social origin. Here, ‘social justice’ has particular connotations, relating to the meritocratic redistribution of resources in ways that reward ability and effort. This article explores alternative conceptions of social justice, taking seriously the fundamental insight that if individuals make history, they do so in circumstances not of their own making. Drawing on recent theories of social justice, an effort is made to ‘trouble’ mainstream notions of career guidance, and to imagine how it can be of the greatest benefit to the least advantaged.

Résumé

Pessimism de l’intellect, optimisme de la volonté? Troubler la relation entre le conseil en orientation et la justice sociale. Le conseil en orientation revendique une affiliation à une “modernité” où les individus se façonnent des vies dignes, indépendamment de leur origine sociale. Ici, la “justice sociale” a des connotations particulières reliées à la redistribution méritocratique des ressources de manière à récompenser l’aptitude et l’effort. Dans cet article, j’explore les conceptions alternatives de la justice sociale en prenant au sérieux l’idée que si les individus façonnent l’Histoire, ils le font dans des circonstances qui ne sont pas de leur propre fait. En s’appuyant sur les théories récentes de la justice sociale, un effort est entrepris pour “troubler” les notions traditionnelles du conseil en orientation et imaginer comment cette démarche peut contribuer à favoriser les plus démunis.

Zusammenfassung

Pessimismus des Intellekts, Optimismus des Willens? Zur Problematisierung der Beziehung zwischen beruflicher Beratung und sozialer Gerechtigkeit. Berufliche Beratung bezieht ihre Wurzeln aus einem Konzept von ‚Modernität‘, in dem Individuen ihr eigenes würdevolles Leben unabhängig von sozialer Herkunft selbst gestalten. ‚Soziale Gerechtigkeit‘hat in diesem Zusammenhang besondere Konnotationen hinsichtlich einer meritokratischen Umverteilung von Ressourcen, die individuelle Fähigkeiten und Anstrengungen belohnt. Der Beitrag erkundet alternative Konzepte sozialer Gerechtigkeit, welche die fundamentale Einsicht ernst nehmen, dass, wenn Individuen ihre Geschichte konstruieren, sie dies nicht im Rahmen von ihnen selbst gestalteter Lebensumstände tun. Bezugnehmend auf jüngste Theorien von sozialer Gerechtigkeit versucht der Beitrag, gängige Wahrnehmungen von Beratung zu hinterfragen und Ideen zu entwickeln, wie sie von größtem Nutzen für die am wenigsten Privilegierten sein könnte.

Resumen

¿Pesimismo del intelecto, optimismo de la voluntad? Enturbiando la relación entre la Orientación Profesional y la Justicia Social. La orientación profesional reclama un linaje a la “modernidad”, donde los individuos construyan una vida digna para sí mismos, independientemente de su origen social. Aquí, la “justicia social” tiene una connotación especial, en relación con la meritoria redistribución de los recursos de manera que premie la habilidad y el esfuerzo. A continuación se exploran las concepciones alternativas de la justicia social, tomando en serio la idea fundamental de que si las personas son las que hacen historia, no la hacen bajo circunstancias de su propia creación. A partir de las teorías recientes de la justicia social, se hace un esfuerzo por “crear problemas” en las nociones convencionales de la orientación profesional y en imaginar cómo podría ser de gran ayuda para los colectivos más desfavorecidos.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Appadurai, A. (2004). The capacity to aspire: Culture and the terms of recognition. In V. Rao & M. Walton (Eds.), Culture and public action (pp. 59–84). Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Arthur, N. (2005). Building from diversity to social justice competencies in international standards for career development practitioners. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 5, 137–148.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Arthur, N., Collins, S., McMahon, M., & Marshall, C. (2009). Career practioners’ views of social justice and barriers to practice. Canadian Journal of Career Development, 8(1), 22–31.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Arulmani, G. (2010). Career counselling: A mechanism to address the accumulation of disadvantage. Australian Journal of Career Development, 19, 7–13.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Barham, L., & Irving, B. (2011). Constructing the future: Diversity, inclusion, and social justice. Stourbridge, UK: Institute of Career Guidance.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bassot, B. (2012). Upholding equality and social justice: A social constructivist perspective on emancipatory career guidance practice. Australian Journal of Career Development, 21(2), 3–13.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Bauman, Z. (2001). Globalization and the new poor. In P. Beilharz (Ed.), The Bauman reader (pp. 298–333). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Bauman, Z. (2006). Liquid life: Living in an age of uncertainty. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Berthet, T. (2010). Capability approach, policy analysis, and school based guidance policies in France. Collaborative Project workable, deliverable 2.2 final report. Unpublished manuscript.

  10. Berthet, T., Dechézelles, S., Fouin, R., & Simon, V. (2009). Toward a ‘capability’ analytical model of public policy? Lessons from academic guidance issues. In 9e Congrès: Asociaciòn Española de Ciencia Politica: “Repensar la democracia: inclusion y diversidad”, Atelier 6 ‘Politicas públicas’: 6.1: “Modelos, enfoques y perspectivas analíticas actuales en el análisis de politicas publicas”, Malaga, Spain.

  11. Biggeri, M. (2010). Children’s valued capabilities. In M. Walker & E. Unterhalter (Eds.), Amartya Sen’s capability approach and social justice in education (pp. 197–214). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Blustein, D. L., McWhirter, E. H., & Perry, J. C. (2005). An emancipatory communitarian approach to vocational development theory, research, and practice. The Counseling Psychologist, 33, 141–179.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Colley, H. (2000). Deconstructing ‘realism’ in career planning: how globalisation impacts on vocational guidance. In K. Roberts (Ed.), Constructing the future: A global perspective. Richmond, VA: Trotman/Institute of Career Guidance.

  14. Colley, H. (2007). Career counselling: Constructivist approaches, by M. McMahon & W. Patton (Eds.). Reviewed in British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 35, 480–482.

  15. Davies, B. (2005). The (im)possibility of intellectual work in neoliberal regimes. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 26(1), 1–14.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Davies, B., & Bansel, P. (2007). Neoliberalism and education. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 20, 247–259.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Derrida, J. (1991). In P. Kamuf (Ed.), A Derrida reader: Between the blinds. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Fraser, N. (1997). Justice interruptus. Critical reflections on the ‘postsocialist condition’. New York, NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Gewirtz, S., & Cribb, A. (2002). Plural conceptions of social justice: Implications for policy sociology. Journal of Education Policy, 17(5), 499–509.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Gramsci, A. (1971). Selections from the prison notebooks. New York, NY: International Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Green, S. J. D. (1989). Emile Durkheim on human talents and two traditions of social justice. British Journal of Sociology, 40(1), 97–115.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Hansen, T., & Amundson, N. (2009). Residing in silence and wonder: Career counselling from the perspective of ‘being’. International Journal of Educational and Vocational Guidance, 9, 31–43.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Herr, E. L. (2008). The importance of career development for an uncertain world: Public policy, legislation and professional advocacy. Keynote speech, 2008 National Career Development Association Global Conference, Washington, DC.

  24. Hodkinson, P., & Sparkes, A. C. (1997). Careership: A sociological theory of career decision making. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 18(1), 29–44.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Hodkinson, P., Sparkes, A. C., & Hodkinson, H. (1996). Triumphs and tears: Young people, markets, and the transition from school to work. London, UK: David Fulton.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Honneth, A. (2004). Recognition and justice: Outline of a plural theory of justice. Acta Sociologica, 47, 351–364.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Hursh, D., & Henderson, J. (2011). Contesting global neoliberalism and creating alternative futures. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 32, 171–185. doi:10.1080/01596306.2011.562665.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Irving, B., & Malik, B. (Eds.). (2004). Critical reflections on career education and guidance: Promoting social justice within a global economy. London, UK: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Jacobsen, M., & Marshman, S. (2008). The four faces of human suffering in the sociology of Zygmunt Bauman—continuity and change. Polish Sociological Review, 1(161), 3–24.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Lawlor, L. (2011). Jacques Derrida. In N. Zalta (Ed.) The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (Fall 2011 Edition).

  31. Leitner, H., Shepphard, E. S., Sziarto, K., & Maringanti, A. (2007). Contesting urban futures: Decentring neoliberalism. In H. Leitner, E. S. Sheppard, & J. Peck (Eds.), Contesting neoliberalism: Urban frontiers (pp. 1–25). New York, NY: Guildford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Levinas, E. (1989). In S. Hand (Ed.), The Levinas reader. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  33. MacIntyre, A. (1988). Whose justice? Whose rationality? Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Marx, K. (1835). Reflections of a young man on the choice of a profession. In Marx and Engels Collected Works, Vol. 1. First published in Archiv für die Geschichte des Sozialismus und der Arbeiterbewegung, 1925. Retrieved January 3, 2012, from http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/cw/volume01/preface.htm.

  35. McMahon, M., Arthur, N., & Collins, S. (2008). Justice and career development: Views and experiences of Australian career development practitioners. Australian Journal of Career Development, 17(3), 15–25.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Nussbaum, M. (2001). Adaptive preferences and women’s options. Economics and Philosophy, 17, 67–88.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). (2004). Career guidance and public policy: Bridging the gap. Paris, France: Author.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Rawls, J. (1971). A theory of justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  39. 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: RoutledgeFalmer.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Ruitenberg, C., & Vokey, D. (2011). Equality and justice. In R. Bailey, R. Barrow, D. Carr, & C. McCarthy (Eds.) The Sage Handbook of Philosophy of Education. doi:10.4135/9781446200872.

  41. Savickas, M. L., Nota, L., Rossier, J., Dauwalder, J.-P., Duarte, M. E., Guichard, J., et al. (2009). Life designing: A paradigm for career construction in the 21st century. Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 75, 239–250.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Sen, A. (2008). The idea of justice. Journal of Human Development, 9, 331–342.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Sennett, R. (1998). The corrosion of character: The personal consequences of work in the new capitalism. New York, NY: Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Sennett, R. (2006). The culture of the new capitalism. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Simon, H. (1991). Bounded rationality and organizational learning. Organization Science, 2, 125–134.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Sultana, R. G. (2003). Career guidance policies in 11 acceding and candidate countries. Turin, Italy: European Training Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Sultana, R. G. (2004). Guidance policies in the learning society: Trends, challenges and responses across Europe. Thessaloniki, Greece: CEDEFOP.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Sultana, R. G. (2008). From policy to practice: A systemic change to lifelong guidance in Europe. Thessaloniki, Greece: CEDEFOP.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Sultana, R. G. (2009). ‘Competence’ and ‘competence frameworks’ in career guidance: Complex and contested concepts. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 9, 15–30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Sultana, R. G. (2011). Lifelong guidance, citizen rights, and the state: Reclaiming the social contract. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 39, 179–186.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Sultana, R. G., & Watts, A. G. (2006a). Career guidance in Europe’s Public Employment Services: Trends and challenges. Brussels, BE: DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Sultana, R. G., & Watts, A. G. (2006b). Career guidance in Public Employment Services across Europe. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 6, 29–46.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Terkel, S. (1974). Working: People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do. New York, NY: Pantheon Books.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Walker, M. (2003). Framing social justice in education: What does the ‘capabilities’ approach offer? British Journal of Educational Studies, 51, 168–187.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Watson, M. (2010). Career psychology in South Africa: Addressing and redressing social justice. Australian Journal of Career Development, 19(1), 24–29.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Watts, A. G., & Fretwell, D. H. (2004). Public policies for career development: Policy strategies for designing career information and guidance systems in middle-income and transition economies. Washington, DC: The World Bank.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Willis, P. (1977). Learning to labour: How working class kids get working class jobs. Farnborough, UK: Saxon House.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ronald G. Sultana.

Additional information

This is the text of an invited keynote address delivered at the annual conference of the IAEVG, held at the University of Applied Labour Studies, Mannheim/Germany between the 3rd and 6th October 2012, with the theme “Career Guidance for Social Justice, Prosperity and Sustainable Employment—Challenges for the 21st Century”. A longer version of this paper is published in G. Arulmani, A.J. Bakshi, F.T.L. Leong, & A.G. Watts (2014) Handbook of Career Development: International Perspectives (Springer).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Sultana, R.G. Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will? Troubling the relationship between career guidance and social justice. Int J Educ Vocat Guidance 14, 5–19 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10775-013-9262-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Career guidance
  • Social justice
  • Neoliberalism