The Psychology of Working: A New Perspective for Career Development, Counseling and Public Policy

By Chope, Robert C. | Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

The Psychology of Working: A New Perspective for Career Development, Counseling and Public Policy


Chope, Robert C., Career Planning and Adult Development Journal


COACHING, COUNSELING, AND CAREER MANAGEMENT The Psychology of Working: A New Perspective for Career Development, Counseling and Public Policy, by David L. Blustein 2006. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates 376 pages, Softcover, $39.95

Intended Audience: B, E, F, G, I

Major Headings from Table of Contents:

Psychology and the experience of working. The changing nature of work: as a means of survival; as a means of social connection; as a means of self determination. Social barriers and working. Implications for research and testing. Toward an inclusive psychological practice where there is a place for work-related issues in psychological practice. The future of the psychology of working.

How is the book most useful for its intended audience?

This book illuminates the manner by which career counseling can be intertwined with personal therapy. No other text, currently available, so expansively pulls together the influence of our personal psychology with the environmental contexts of our working lives.

The top five things you learned from reading this book:

1) The changing nature of work offers 36 pages of the pithy history of work and the "changing contracts" that affect our attitudes toward work.

2) We are often insensitive to work as a means of social connection and Blustein is relentless in forcing the reader to experience the intersection of work and relationships.

3) Blustein allows counselors to consider the self-determining and extrinsic reasons that motivate people to work.

4) The text provides a comprehensive framework for addressing social justice issues in the career counseling process.

5) Blustein presents a new agenda for individuals interested in pursuing career counseling research: social-constructionist thought and emancipating communitarianism.

Years from now, we will all probably remember the transitions that were made in career counseling practice and theory from logical positivism through contextualism to the newest post-modern approaches of narra- tives and constructionism. Yet all of these memories may turn out to be less significant than David Blustein's fundamentalist attempt to integrate the research and practice of career counseling into a broader frame of psychological theory and practice.

Unlike many career theorists writing today, Blustein draws from not only the psychological and counseling literature, but also from other social science disciplines exemplified by anthropology and politics to develop his multidimensional thesis on work in our lives. Counselors and other human services practitioners will be pleased to view how he defines work by embracing the psychological meanings he believes are attached to work. These include vocational identity, the potential for social interaction, the expenditure of energy and human capital, and the manner with which work ties all of us together through different times and cultures.

The Blustein text updates practitioners and teachers about the effect of a variety of social and economic forces that impinge upon work and our current notion of career. These forces comprise the impact of technology and digitalization on work, globalization, and the isolation of working at home, care giving and the sandwich generation, and the loss of membership in the traditional labor unions. These issues all beg the perplexing existential question as to whether or not careers as a concept have died, or, at least for now, disappeared.

What sets the Blustein work apart from other career literature is his askance criticism of what career counseling theory and practice have excluded. He speaks to the irony that in the advancement of career development theory and practice, those people who exist at the margins of society have not been well served by traditional career counseling: the poor, the disabled, most of the working class, those who suffer the ravages of discrimination, and young people who are not only unemployed but have given up looking for work.

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