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Title: Reflexivity and social justice : career guidance and counselling in a post-socialist context
Other Titles: Career guidance for emancipation : reclaiming justice for the multitude
Authors: Maksimovic, Tijana
Nordentoft, Helle Merete
Keywords: Vocational guidance -- Philosophy
Social justice -- Vocational guidance
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Routledge
Citation: Maksimovic, T., & Nordentoft, H. M. (2019). Reflexivity and social justice : career guidance and counselling in a post-socialist context. In T. Hooley, R. G. Sultana & R. Thomsen (Eds.), Career guidance for emancipation : reclaiming justice for the multitude (pp. 232-244). London: Routledge.
Abstract: Supporting individuals in balancing their dreams with reality is commonly presented as a key goal in career guidance practice, even though the underlying concept of ‘realism’ is rarely critically engaged with (Colley, 2000). At the same time, career practitioners themselves have to negotiate and balance their professional position between the commonly preferred person-centred approach in career guidance practices (Veskov, 2012; Watts, 1996) with the demands in national or organisational policies. These two processes appear to interact and influence each other. How practitioners approach a person who insists on following his/her dreams instead of being ‘realistic’ can be connected to the way in which they adapt to policy guidelines at work and vice versa. In this chapter, we, therefore, assert that career professionals must critically reflect the premises for their own position and actions as career practitioners in order to advance social justice in career guidance practices. In other words, we advocate that guidance practitioners critically engage with the ‘socio-political dilemmas’ which exist at the base of all guidance provision (Watts, 1996; see also Chapters 4, 6 and 8). Reflexivity, understood as critical reflection, is particularly important in the context of today’s dominance of neoliberal discourse. This economic philosophy, as one dimension of globalisation, has impacted employment relations and conditions across the world, while being locally contextualised and negotiated in different ways. Building on the self-interested individualism of classical liberalism, the discourse of neoliberalism seeks to create enterprising and competitive entrepreneurs (Olssen & Peters, 2005). Such an individualistic focus merges itself easily—and we could say insidiously—with the person-centred approaches of the humanistic paradigm still dominant in career guidance. This often results in an almost exclusive focus on a person’s deficits, without an acknowledgement of structural inequalities (Colley, 2000) that are exacerbated or created by neoliberal economics. Under such circumstances, practitioners limit themselves to developing individual survival strategies in response to the changes in labour markets, without critically engaging with the external conditions that shape careers (Irving, 2010). De-contextualising career guidance practice leaves its embeddedness in professional and broader discourses unquestioned and exposes practitioners to the risk of perpetuating certain visions of the world which normalise and legitimise forms of social injustice. The importance of addressing discourses is highlighted by the fact that they are not only outside us, but also internalised (Sultana, 2014a). Striving for a more just and inclusive society is characterised by reflexiveness and openness to listen to and learn from the different groups that constitute it, if social justice is addressed in a critical manner. When employed by career practitioners, this approach means accommodation of diversity and critical reflection on the dominant ideological influences which inform guidance theory, policy and practice (Irving, 2010). Reflexivity involves not only reflecting on how certain elements shape career guidance and what effects they have, but also on why these particular influences are dominant. It goes beyond creating a simplified map of all the possible and actual factors that impact policy and practice; it invites us to understand the complexity and messiness inherent in interactions within guidance practice. One way to strive for this is through embracing tensions which occur in career guidance, such as the ones we described in the first paragraph. These tensions are informative, and by identifying and analysing them we can better comprehend the complexities of practice (Hong, Falter, & Fecho, 2017). In this chapter, we will use the case of career guidance in Serbia to argue that reflexivity, viewed as a form of ‘critical questioning within practice’ (Cunliffe, 2002, p. 36), needs to be promoted and developed as a continuing stance practitioners should adopt towards their work.
ISBN: 9781138087439
Appears in Collections:Career guidance for emancipation : reclaiming justice for the multitude

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