The Influence of Communism on Career Development and Education in Romania

By Whitmarsh, Lona; Ritter, Ruxandra | Career Development Quarterly, September 2007 | Go to article overview

The Influence of Communism on Career Development and Education in Romania


Whitmarsh, Lona, Ritter, Ruxandra, Career Development Quarterly


Contemporary career counseling research has awakened career counselors to the reality that their theories of development, assessmcm, and intervention have been constructed within the capitalistic structure of the late-20th-century labor force in the United States. The social transition model of career counseling outlined by M. Pope (2000) has identified changes in developmental theory, assessment techniques, and intervention strategies, reflecting changes in U.S. culture in the new millennium. With the career counselor's focus on enhancing multicultural awareness, cultural sensitivity, and globalization, this project presents the societal forces within a Communist environment that influenced the career development process, illustrated by a case history.

Career counseling has experienced a rich developmental journey through the 90-year evolution from initial vocational guidance movement, which described the shift from an agrarian society to an industrial society, to the contemporary career development models, which attempt to encompass the rapid changes in the United States' technological, change-driven corporate world. Pope (2000) has conceptualized a social transitions stage model describing the changes in the brief history of career counseling in the United States. He identified six stages, ranging from the initial job placement focus to the current focus on technology and changing demographics, internationalization and multicultural dimensions, and the school-to-job transition. In developing a vision for the future of career counseling. Farmer and Rush (2003) boldly suggested that career professionals "suffer from enclosing [themselves] within a cocoon of pretend reality" (p. 28). They explained that, as early as 1962, Wrenn described that this reality is based on the assumption that "the present is enduring" and "is based upon the past and the known, upon seeing that which is as though it would always be" (p, 445). Farmer and Rush alerted career counselors that, with the rapid trends of globalization, current "work and career terminology may not be reflective of thinking from the perspective of local and global arenas" (p. 28).

Farmer and Rush (2003) continued by explaining that work is a universal phenomenon. All cultures have opportunities for individuals to find productive labor that helps to provide self-definition and identity. However, they reminded career counselors that it is imperative for them to understand the cultural context or fabric in which this work plan is developed. Parmer and Rush shared the experience of a Peace Corps volunteer serving in Africa who quickly learned that the Western model of career counseling would not be an applicable template for individuals socialized in cultures with very different societal work norms and standards.

Contemporary career development theories have focused on person-environment fit, human development, and social learning as the foundation for Western models of career formation and counseling interventions. Cluing (2003) awakened career counselors to the realit)' that these theories incorporate the values and views of the modern industrial era and are established on a hierarchical model characteristic of large organizations in the United States in the past century. Osipow and Fitzgerald ( 1996) noted that "the question of career development in other cultures is ignored" (p. 328). After reviewing the articles published in 2004 in the major American career journals. Guidon and Richmond (2005) also concluded, "What we have not learned enough about is career work . . . with people whose cultural experience is vastly different from that of first-world nations" (p. 128).

With the challenges of Wrenn (1962) and the reinvigorating of this challenge by Partner and Rush, career counselors need to broaden the competencies of cultural awareness in order to leave the cocoon of "cultural encapsulation" (Partner & Rush, 2003, p. 26). This project attempts to enlarge career counselors' sphere by presenting the cultural influences on career development within a Communist country and illustrates these unique influences with a case study of a young man raised in Communist Romania. …

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