Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

Issues of Social Justice and Career Development

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

Issues of Social Justice and Career Development

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article provides a discussion of pertinent social justice issues and theories as they relate to career counseling best practices. Practitioners are provided with strategies and techniques that may enhance their knowledge and skills as they relate to career development practice with culturally diverse client populations. Practitioners are also provided with a case study that illustrates the social and career path of a client over his lifespan.

While human rights movements have global visions, most are locally anchored and emerge out of concrete abuses and struggles of communities that are poor or otherwise marginalized. What these movements have in common is their belief in a universal vision of justice and understanding that their struggles are bound up in other human rights struggles around the world. They also have in common a set of values which include a belief that basic rights must be universal, irrespective of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, disability, documentation status or any other status, and also comprehensive, protecting civil liberties, civil rights, and economic and social justice. In this way, they are part of a large umbrella movement seeking social justice through human rights. (National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, 2011)

Power, privilege, and subjugation and their impact on client lives have called to action counselors who mightily embrace a social justice worldview (Fouad, Gerstein, & Toporek, 2006). To this end, social justice activists utilize social advocacy and engagement to help eradicate discriminatory social, political, and economic conditions that obstruct the educational, career, and personal/ social development of individuals, families, and diverse populations. Ratts (2009) reasons that social advocacy is an essential step change agents can provide when addressing equity concerns for those who have been marginalized by society. Ratts' position aligns with Section A. 6 .a. of the American Counseling Association's Code of Ethics, which positions that "when appropriate, counselors advocate at the individual, group, institutional, and societal levels to examine potential barriers and obstacles that inhibit access and/ or the growth and development of clients" (ACA; 2005, p. 5). There is an emergent awareness that benevolent counselors do not adequately understand how oppressive behaviors and mental health issues are interconnected (Jacobs, 1994). To combat this lack of responsiveness a theory of social justice counseling affords counselors with a theoretical framework that highlights the role oppression plays in shaping human behavior and provides a blueprint for how to realize advocacy in counseling. Lee (2007) promulgates that irrespective of theoretical orientation social justice counseling may be influential in helping to explain human behavior and determining best practices appropriate when counseling diverse clientele.

One such best practice is the Lent, Brown, and Hackett's 1987 Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT; Savickas & Lent, 1994). SCCT is a byproduct of Bandura's social cognitive theory endeavors to provide opportunities for discourse on issues related to culture, sex roles, inherited benefaction, social milieus, and unforeseen life circumstances that may intermingle with and supplant the effects of career-related choices (Stitt-Gohdes, 1997). Through the embracing of personal achievements, vicarious learning, societal influence, and physiological conditions and responses, the SCCT purports that self-efficacy, the prospect of promising outcomes, and individual goals become instrumental factors in the successful navigation of career decisions. The SCCT contrasts other existing career theories based on the premise that the self is a system and that individual beliefs are inherently influenced from a social and economic context (Stitt-Gohdes, 1997). According to Ratts (2009), counseling from a social justice perspective emboldens counselors to cultivate a more balanced viewpoint of individuals within their environments. …

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