Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

The Historical Importance of Social Justice in the Founding of the National Career Development Association

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

The Historical Importance of Social Justice in the Founding of the National Career Development Association

Article excerpt

The authors discuss the role of social justice in the founding of the National Career Development Association (NCDA). They discuss the historic context of the founding, the social justice work of the pioneers of vocational guidance, and the social justice influences that permeate the fabric of NCDA even today.

Professions do not just happen. It takes a confluence of historical events and visionary leaders to make it so, and career counseling was no exception. Out of the social upheaval and transition from an agrarian society to an industrial one, this new profession-career counseling-was birthed. From the earliest beginnings of the profession, social justice was at the forefront of its successful development.

Career counseling was born out of the social justice movements of the time, especially the progressive social reform movement of the late 1890s and early 1900s in the United States. Historians of career counseling have identified 1913 as the launch date, corresponding to the founding of the National Vocational Guidance Association (renamed the National Career Development Association in 1985 [NCDA; Brewer, 1942; Pope, 2000]) and have attributed that founding to a small group of disaffected social workers who realized that case management, the traditional focus of that field, was simply not enough. People also needed a place to gain knowledge about the self, to consider how to overcome the many barriers they faced, and to gain knowledge of the current occupational structure of their society, so that they could learn to apply their internal, personal resources to their vocational problems, especially choosing a vocation.

The break from the profession of social work has been personified historically in the work of Frank Parsons, who is credited as the founder of the field of career counseling and, by extension, the entire field of professional counseling (Aubrey, 1977; Brewer, 1942; Pope & Sveinsdottir, 2005). Parsons and his colleagues at the Breadwinner's Institute and the Vocation Guidance Bureau (VGB) of the Boston Civic Service House found that they had to do much more than case management alone. The Boston Civic Service House was a Jane Addams-styled settlement house that arose to help individuals and their families who were migrating from rural areas to resettle in urban centers. They found that the process of helping also meant helping people look at themselves through a process they called "vocational guidance," what we now call "career counseling" (Brewer, 1942).

Social justice as a value has continually informed career counseling and development practice since the founding of the NCDA in 1913, and the movement for social justice in this period was a critical component in the founding of this new profession (Pope, 2013; Zytowski, 2001). In this article, we explore the role of social justice in the founding of NCDA. We examine the historic context in which that founding occurred, the social justice work of the pioneers of vocational guidance, and finally the social justice influences that permeate the current fabric of NCDA.

Historie Context

According to Pope's (2000) Social Transitions Stage Model, the birth of career counseling in the United States occurred during a time of major societal change, a time of great social upheaval and social inequality. It arose from a felt need to help people who were having difficult financial, employment, and personal problems as a result of the social transition from an agrarian society to an industrial one and subsequent migration from rural to urban areas at the end of the 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s. Career counseling arose in response to and as an immediate outcome of this transition.

This period has been characterized by historians as the progressive era in the United States. In this time of great social unrest, the ideals of social justice, activism, and reform thrived; although it was a modest and relatively short period from 1890 to 1920, great strides forward were made in achieving a more just society; the focus was on the problems of factory workers, child labor, racial segregation, women's suffrage, and corruption in business and in politics (Teixeira & Halpin, 2010). …

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.