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dc.contributor.advisorBoon, Bronwyn
dc.contributor.advisorStringer, Rebecca
dc.contributor.authorDouglas, Fiona
dc.identifier.citationDouglas, F. (2011). Constructing Professional Identity: How career advice, guidance and counselling practitioners’ construct their own sense of professional identity in relation to their work environment. (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractCareer advice, guidance and counselling practitioners focus their gaze outward to their clients, helping them with their career development. Little research exists on how they construct their own occupational identity. In this research, I turn my gaze inward on this occupational group; in particular, I look at how they think and feel about what they do and how this influences their professional identity. Specifically, I ask: “what is the relationship between career advice, guidance and counselling practitioners’ work environment and their construction of their own sense of their professional identity?” The state’s position reflects dominant neoliberal discourses and by adopting a critical management focus I engaged critically with the CAGC practitioners’ environment, exploring possible positions of challenge and resistance. My theoretical perspective is provided by Michel Foucault’s treatment of power and control (notably at a distance by the state) of disciplinary technologies, and of the power/knowledge relationship. Further theorising on identity formation through interpellation (calling a subject into being) and performativity (bestowing identity) was made possible through Judith Butler’s work. I argue that within a strengthening discourse of neoliberalism, in which technology is promoted as the solution to do more with less, practitioners believe their occupation is poorly recognised, threatened and inhibited by a lack of successful performative occurrences. I discerned a preferred model identity of value to the state because it renders practitioners easier to manage and minimises resistance through particular disciplinary technologies. I determined that CAGC practitioners identified with four distinct subject positions. Two complied with the model for different reasons, and a further two resisted, identifying instead with a traditionally-defined professional subject position. Importantly, this drew strongly on their academic learning and personal values of social good, both at odds with the model. None of the subject positions identified overtly challenges the repositioning of CAGC as a handmaiden of the neoliberal discourse which relentlessly demands increasing economic output from the population. Those who identify with the resistant subject positions have not aligned with neoliberalism. They experience little respite from intervention, using personal values as a shield to defend their position and as an anchor of faith to justify plans or dreams for exiting the occupation. The implications of this research are far reaching for practitioners, managers and citizens as the mantra of there is no alternative to neoliberalism silences dissenting voices and promotes a specific form of truth. “Truth is a thing of this world: it is produced only by virtue of multiple forms of constraint” (Foucault, 1980a, p. 131). The ‘truth’ in relation to CAGC is formed by the outcome of influential international bodies such as the OECD and the World Bank, who in turn influence government policy. I invited members of the Career Practitioners’ Association of New Zealand and from a range of CAGC providers across the country to participate in semi-structured, qualitative interviews. Thirty-five were conducted and analysed using Potter and Wetherell’s method of discourse analysis. Although this research is located in New Zealand, the findings are of international importance for career practitioners, their employing organisations, professional bodies, the state and interest groups.  
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectdisciplinary technologies
dc.titleConstructing Professional Identity: How career advice, guidance and counselling practitioners’ construct their own sense of professional identity in relation to their work environment.
dc.typeThesis of Philosophy of Otago Theses
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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