Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Making Career Theories More Culturally Sensitive: Implications for Counseling

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Making Career Theories More Culturally Sensitive: Implications for Counseling

Article excerpt

The primary question addressed in this article is whether and how career theories can be more culturally sensitive without losing value as conceptual explanations or their usefulness for counselors. Contextual action theory is identified as a means to develop culturally sensitive explanations. Six steps are proposed and illustrated, including using the naive observations and subjective reports and recognizing ongoing processes. The use of these steps in counseling is also addressed.

Counselors are faced with how to deal with clients' culturally based career issues within the defined space of particular social representations, daily practices, political ideologies, and legal systems. Many career theories have developed either without explicit attention to these particular spaces and contexts or by presuming that theories developed in one context are applicable to other contexts. Nevertheless, career theories have been applied in a variety of contexts. The primary question addressed in this article is whether career theories and explanations can be more culturally sensitive in order to reflect specific contexts. To address this question, we begin by describing a specific cultural context and issue, that is, the family as a locus of career development for Aboriginal youth in Canada who reside in cities (Marshall, Young, & Brokenleg, 2003). Later, we use it as a case illustration in developing culturally sensitive career theories.

Many Aboriginal youth (self-identified First Nations, Inuit, or Métis) who live in Canadian cities face particularly difficult situations represented by a high dropout rate among students, unemployment (Statistics Canada, 2002, 2003), family poverty (Statistics Canada, 2002), substance abuse, Involvement with the justice system (Clatworthy & Mendelson, 1999), and other problems of urban youth generally. Many of these young people and their families contend with the effects of the residential school system in Canada (Assembly of First Nations, 1994; Bull, 1991; Haig Brown, 1988; Royal Commission on Aboriginal People, 1996). Among other practices, residential schools over several generations separated children from their parents and separated parents from the school (Haig Brown, 1988; Royal Commission on Aboriginal People, 1996). Compounded by a degree of embedded racism and physical and sexual abuse, the effect of the residential school system for many Aboriginal people in the current generation is a "disconnect" between parenting, schooling, and the process of becoming adults for young people ( Kirkncss & Bowman, 1992; Royal Commission on Aboriginal People, 1996). Although not all Aboriginal people attended residential schools and some experienced these schools positively, this disconnect has been further exacerbated for some Aboriginal children and youth attending schools that do not hold interest for them (Statistics Canada, 2003).

Although these issues do not reflect the cultural strengths of this community, they are issues faced by Aboriginal peoples in Canada and stand as an example of many localized, culturally specific concerns that challenge counselors. Can career development theories assist us as counselors in understanding and addressing these types of particular problems? If career theories and the interventions that flow from them are to be meaningful and used by counselors, they have to be able to reflect the complexity and specificity of cultural environments.

The broader issue of whether career theories can be more culturally sensitive arises in the context of increased cultural contact between peoples, the rise of multiculturalism within national groups, the growth of globalization as an economic and political force, and dissatisfaction with approaches to career development that do not explicitly address culture. In responding to the challenges counselors and researchers face in making career theories more culturally sensitive, we introduce the contextual explanation of career (Young, Valach, & Collin, 2002) as culturally responsive and propose six steps that emerge from this approach that can serve to make explanations and theories about career more culturally sensitive and relevant. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.