Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Advancing Life-Span, Life-Space Theory: Introduction to the Special Section

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Advancing Life-Span, Life-Space Theory: Introduction to the Special Section

Article excerpt

Shortly after Donald E. Super's death in 1994, the National Career Development Association (Hartung, 1995) and the Counseling Psychology Division in the American Psychological Association (Savickas, 1995) each sponsored a symposium to honor the man and his contributions to career theory and practice. Both symposia mixed presentations that emphasized recollections of Super's accomplishments with presentations that speculated about how to continue to develop his life-span, life-space theory for comprehending and intervening in careers. This special section contains expanded versions of the presentations that concentrated on how to advance and further articulate life-span, life-space theory.

The section opens with Edwin Herr identifying five possible areas in which the theory could be refined. The first category involves improving several fundamental concepts such as replacing self-concept dimensions and metadimensions with a social constructionist framework and replacing career maturity with career adaptability when reference is to adults. The second and third categories involve increased attention to the impact of economic changes and the reduction of social barriers to career development. The final two categories deal with evaluating and improving the model and measures for career development assessment and counseling.

In the second article, Mark Savickas proposes that adaptation can serve as a bridging construct for integrating the diverse segments in life-span, life-space theory. Furthermore, he suggests that, in the life-span developmental aspect of Super's theory, life-role adaptability should replace career maturity as the cardinal construct. As a multidimensional construct, adaptability can be characterized by the processes of planning, exploring, and deciding. Foresight, or planful attitudes and planning skills, remains the core dimension in the developmental perspective on adaptability, yet exploring and deciding take on increased importance as developmental processes that foster adaptability to and in life roles. In the next article, David Blustein offers a context-rich perspective on how exploration constitutes a critical dimension in adaptability for life roles. He describes both the optimal antecedent conditions that foster exploratory activity and the likely outcomes of exploration. Blustein encourages practitioners and researchers to incorporate social constructionist thought as they help clients selfexplore and develop lifelong exploratory attitudes. …

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