The work of job seeking : studies on career advice for white-collar workers
Sammanfattning: In contemporary working life, training and guidance on how to write a curriculum vitae (CV) or succeed at an interview are fundamental features of job seeking. This kind of training and guidance, which emphasizes communicative skills and performance, entails ideals and norms in the process of becoming employed. This study focuses in particular on guidance by a Swedish white-collar union and how students at universities negotiate career advice. Central questions are: What kind of characteristics, values and moral obligations are constructed as ideals for job seekers? How is the governing of job seekers linked to the social and political context? How is governing and self-governing constructed in the interaction between career coaches and students? How is the subject position as a job seeker negotiated? These questions are explored in four separate but interrelated articles. The empirical material includes analyses of texts, fieldwork data and interviews. The theoretical framework is inspired by the Foucauldian concept of governmentality and the concept of discursive positioning.Findings indicate that job seeking is constructed in terms of self-marketing of individuals and the moral qualities are being active and ambitious in terms of job searching as well as taking responsibility in working on and displaying one’s personality. The study also points to ambiguities in career advice and obstacles to working on the self to become “sellable”. The career discourse is interspersed with other discourses (as national identity and gender) and other subject positions in these discourses. The technology of self-esteem is a technology for mobilizing the students in this context. In terms of “self-work”, this study shows how the students and future white-collar workers negotiate and work on their self to become employable. In addition, it is argued that career advice must be understood in relation to ideals of employability, flexibility and self-help discourses.
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