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Title: Towards an emancipatory career guidance : what is to be done?
Other Titles: Career guidance for emancipation : reclaiming justice for the multitude
Authors: Hooley, Tristram
Sultana, Ronald G.
Thomsen, Rie
Keywords: Career development
Vocational guidance -- Philosophy
Social justice -- Vocational guidance
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Routledge
Citation: Hooley, T., Sultana, R. G., & Thomsen, R. (2019). Towards an emancipatory career guidance : what is to be done? In T. Hooley, R. G. Sultana & R. Thomsen (Eds.), Career guidance for emancipation : reclaiming justice for the multitude (pp. 245-261). London: Routledge.
Abstract: ‘Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring, forget your perfect offering’ sang Leonard Cohen in ‘Anthem’, offering hope in an imperfect world. He continued ‘There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything), that’s how the light gets in’, reminding us that there are always possibilities even where things seem to be solid. As we write this we live in a world of Trump and Brexit, of #MeToo, of gun violence and young people leading movements against it, of calls for Catalan secession, of striking steel workers in Iran, striking university lecturers in the UK and Finland, striking teachers across several states in the USA and prolonged negotiations about pay, working hours and conditions between the Danish state, regional and municipal employers and public employees. Amongst such struggle and contestation, it seems increasingly clear that Fukuyama’s (1992) pronouncement of the ‘end of history’ was premature and naive. There are cracks opening up in neoliberalism and individuals and groups are ringing bells that herald all kinds of change (not all of it for the better). Our task in these volumes has been to theorise where these ‘cracks’ are and explore which ‘bells’ can still be ‘rung’ with particular reference to the field of career guidance. We are not, of course, the first to ask the crucial question: ‘What is to be done?’ Most (in)famously, Lenin’s (1902) eponymous pamphlet, penned in revolutionary Russia, made the case for a vanguard of politically informed élites whose capacity to see beyond immediate economic gains qualified them to lead workers to their ‘true interests’. Vanguardism has remained a popular answer to the question of how we change politics and is influential far beyond the Leninist tradition. Such a view has major, and in our opinion undesirable, implications for the kind of politics of contestation and transformation that can be imagined and organised, as well as for the roles that can and could be played by different members of society, including those within the career guidance profession, practitioners as well as researchers The concept of ‘multitude’ that we have utilised in this volume offers an alternative to vanguardism. It conceptualises social change in a decentred, bottom-up way. We are not led by a revolutionary vanguard seeking sovereignty, but rather struggle in many ways and in many places and seek constant dialogue about our common interests. This is what Hardt and Negri (2004, p. 328) call the ‘democracy of the multitude’, although as others have pointed out that it can be difficult to operationalise in practice (Bencivenni, 2006). Hardt and Negri (2000) argue that in a world dominated by Empire, by what we have characterised as neoliberalism, the global multitude will inevitably find new common interests. The growth in access to communication technologies such as the internet creates new terrains for interaction, democracy and struggle. For example, the field of career guidance is increasingly engaged in forms of global dialogue enabled by the falling financial cost of travel, by the internet and by the recognition of common experiences of practice and of careering in a neoliberal world. Such dialogue opens up the possibility for increased solidarity, empathy and exchange of practice and for the growth of the common ground. But, it is also true that neoliberalism has found new ways to separate people both ideologically and through the crudest approach of building walls and fences. Although Trump has yet to build his iconic wall to keep Mexicans out of the USA, the USA, like 39 other countries around the world, has fortified its borders and sought to prevent the intermixing of the multitude (The Economist, 2016). The notion of ‘Fortress Europe’ is increasingly becoming a sad and shameful reality (Carr, 2016). Career guidance practitioners are unlikely to have to scale a wall in order to interact with one another, but they are constrained by a lack of time, by the imposition of targets and other responsibilising technologies that push them to work harder with the inevitable consequence that they engage less in the kind of dialogue and reflection advocated by Maksimović and Nordentoft in Chapter 15, by Wikstrand in Chapter 14 and by Poulsen, Thomsen and Skovhus in Career Guidance for Social Justice. There are also other questions about the speed, extent and nature of any move away from neoliberalism and about the strategies that might bring such a change about. Should one aim for wholesale revolution that addresses all institutions in the economic, political and cultural sphere with a view to bringing about a new humanity, free from the shackles of oppression? Or should one instead aim for a more evolutionary approach to social change, with diverse groups contesting different aspects of the social formations they inhabit, and constructing alternatives to them, from the ground up, in distinct but linked ways? Should one have a blueprint to aim for, or should humanity’s utopic and creative impulses be given wide berth, thus short-circuiting the imposition of one form of life by those who claim to have ‘the answer’? Should one attack the state, or should one, in a Gramscian spirit, struggle on the terrain of the state, emboldened by a coalition of progressive social forces? Or perhaps the way forward could be that of building alternatives outside of the state, parallel forms of life and of sociability that—much like the monastic orders in mediaeval Europe, or the counter-cultural communes of the 1960s—operate with alternative sets of values, institutions and practices, such that their success in finding a harmonious balance with each other and with the environment gives them increasing legitimacy, until the exceptional becomes mainstream by force of example? Whatever approach to social change is taken, it cannot be considered in isolation from individuals’ lives and careers. At the same time as the multitude is struggling for political change, singular individuals will also be struggling to put food on the table and find meaningful and socially rewarding forms of work. The politics of both production and consumption intersect with people’s careers in both individual and collective ways. The decision to strike may endanger your job (if the strike fails) or improve your working conditions and career prospects (if it is successful). Similarly, a large-scale boycott of a company has implications for those pursuing their careers within the company. There are many other terrains on which political struggles can take place but all of them require people to devote time, energy and creativity in ways that may not always be compatible with study, employment and family life as these are currently conceived. Such intersections highlight the way in which politics and struggle are not separate domains from career and show how decisions about political and civic participation are usefully seen as career decisions and should therefore be within the domain of career guidance. If career guidance is to be part of a movement for social justice, it needs to find a meaningful way of relating to struggles. Having an awareness of such struggles, finding common cause with them and being willing to talk about this with clients is clearly an important part of this. In Career Guidance for Social Justice and in this volume we have worked with others to build a critique of how neoliberalism shapes and constrains career and explored how career guidance is implicated in this. We have also begun to explore the stances and approaches that career guidance can adopt in order to build on these critical analyses of neoliberalism to engage in struggling for a better world. Many of the authors utilise versions of the Freirean strategy of ‘conscientisation’. Conscientisation suggests that education, in this case career guidance, has a role in helping individuals to understand the different ways in which prevalent social arrangements jeopardise and harm human flourishing. The attainment of such critical awareness requires the mastery of tools provided by critical social theory or pedagogy in order to cut through the representation of ‘reality’ presented through discourse and other means (Thomsen, 2017), thus identifying the myriad ways in which subaltern groups endure what Young (2005), also building on Freire, has referred to as the ‘five faces of oppression’, namely exploitation, marginalisation, powerlessness, cultural imperialism and violence.
Description: Includes biographies of contributors
ISBN: 9781138087439
Appears in Collections:Career guidance for emancipation : reclaiming justice for the multitude

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