Appraising Cultural Identity in Career-Development Assessment and Counseling

By Hartung, Paul J.; Vandiver, Beverly J. et al. | Career Development Quarterly, March 1998 | Go to article overview

Appraising Cultural Identity in Career-Development Assessment and Counseling


Hartung, Paul J., Vandiver, Beverly J., Leong, Frederick T. L., Pope, Mark, et al., Career Development Quarterly


Career-Development Assessment and Counseling (C-DAC) systematically bridges career theory and practice. Integrating differential, developmental, and phenomenological methods, the C-DAC model uses a comprehensive career assessment battery to help clients explore their roles, developmental stages and tasks, career attitudes and knowledge, values, and interests within their unique life contexts. The authors recommend elaborating the C-DAC model to formally appraise cultural identity in step one of the model and to consider cultural identity concerns throughout the C-DAC process. This should help counselors more clearly understand how cultural factors influence people's career development and vocational behavior.

Recent years have seen many efforts to address the applicability of existing career theory constructs to individuals representing groups other than the White, male middle class. These efforts have produced textbooks (e.g., Brown & Brooks, 1991; Savickas & Walsh, 1996; Sharf, 1997), book chapters (e.g., Fitzgerald & Betz, 1994; Leong & Gim-Chung, 1995; Vondracek & Fouad, 1994), and special sections or issues of journals (Leong, 1991; Savickas, 1993; Tinsley, 1994; Walsh, 1994) seeking to expand career theory, science, and practice such that each takes account of cultural, socioeconomic, and environmental factors affecting career development and vocational behavior. The multicultural career literature often emphasizes the need to examine the utility of applying extant career theories to counseling people in a diverse society. We address this need by examining the Career-Development Assessment and Counseling model (C-DAC; Super, 1983) within life-span, life-space theory as a bridge between career theory and practice in diverse contexts.

REVITALIZING DEVELOPMENTAL CAREER THEORY

Infusing diversity into existing career theories represents a viable strategy for making such theories useful for counseling workers representing diverse groups (Savickas,1995). Rather than constructing entirely new theories, some authors have suggested first examining the multicultural and cross-cultural utility of existing theoretical constructs because they have not been adequately considered or tested with other than White, middle-class, college student samples (Fitzgerald & Betz, 1994). Advocating for placing existing theories in cultural context, Savickas (1995) called for theory renovation to "fully comprehend diversity and multiculturalism" (p. 11). Similarly, Fitzgerald and Betz called for theory enrichment to incorporate "the complexities of gender, race/ethnicity, and structural and cultural factors" (p. 114).

The life-span, life-space approach (Super,1957; Super, Savickas, & Super, 1996) has long recognized the contextual nature of career. It lends itself particularly well to theory renovation and enrichment given its inclusive, fluid, and multidisciplinary nature. This approach and, particularly, the C-DAC model hold great promise for multicultural career theory and practice. This is because life-span, life-space theory and the C-DAC model already incorporate important culturally based variables such as work role importance and values. Indeed, two of the core measures used in the C-DAC process, namely the Salience Inventory (SI; Super & Nevill, 1985a) and the Values Scale (VS; Super & Nevill,1985b), developed from concerted, concurrent, and multinational cross-cultural career development research efforts (Nevill & Calvert, 1996; Nevill & Kruse,1996). The development and use of these instruments in diverse and culturally different settings may enhance the validity of their use in multicultural contexts.

In this article, we first give an overview of the C-DAC model. We then seek to simultaneously accomplish two objectives. The first objective involves demonstrating how to incorporate cultural identity concerns throughout every element of the C-DAC model. …

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