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Rie Thomsen

Vejledning i fællesskaber:  karrierevejledning fra et deltagerperspektiv

Research output: Book/anthology/dissertation/reportPh.D. thesis

  • Department of Curriculum Research
  • Enheden for vejledning, erhvervs- og professionsuddannelse

English summary

Keywords: Career guidance, educational and vocational guidance, career development, practice research, social practice theory, participation, individualisation, binary problematics, critical research.


The aim of the thesis "Career Guidance in Communities - career guidance from a participant perspective" is to contribute to the development of the guidance field, by discussing the themes:

- Career Guidance is often thought of and organized as individual interviews and criticized for contributing to the individualization
- Career Guidance is described as having a basic dilemma in which the individual's interests and needs are to be matched with society's interests and needs
- Coming to an understanding of what education or occupation to choose is in many career guidance theories and methods described as an inner and reflective process. The discussion considers the need for an understanding that reflects how the choice is related to situated participation in communities.

The empirical basis is a study of career guidance at a folk high school (adult education) and a study of career guidance in a factory that is in the process of closing down. In both cases the career guidance interventions are practiced in the existing communities.

The theoretical basis is Critical Psychology, and categories include personal conduct of life, the context of action, participation and coming to understanding with oneself. Critical psychological categories are based on a dialectical understanding of the relationship between the individual and society. People act with their conditions and the meaning they ascribe to their conditions. Through their actions they modify, change and create the conditions for themselves and for each other, and the new conditions are once again changing the possibilities for action.

The Methodology is practice research. This means that research is conducted in cooperation with the students at the folk high school, teachers, the workers in the company and the career guidance practioners. The thesis is based on the ideal of a democratic research process in which participants act as co-researchers on a common problem, which is about how to organize a guidance practice they and others will find useful and relevant to them. 15 participants, students, workers, teachers and career guidance practioners were followed over a two day period; these participatory observations were then supplemented by a semi-structured interview. Cooperation with the participants has taken place over a two-year period with participatory observations, interviews, presentations and discussions.

The thesis puts forward a de-centred perspective on career guidance, and consequently an interest in how career guidance interacts with the participants' everyday lives. The meaning and relevance of participation in career guidance is analyzed from a participant perspective and illustrated from various angles:

- Analysis of the participants' situation at the two different places and how career guidance connects to the situation and the settings
- Analysis of how the participants influence the career guidance and setting of the actual guidance plays a pivotal role
- Analysis of how the possibilities of participation are not just embedded in the individual, but are strongly linked to the concrete conditions in the communities in question.


The discussion focuses on:

- Other people's experiences can be seen as resources in guidance contexts
- The impact in terms of ethics and confidentiality on guidance in the collective life of communities
- The difference in understanding the choice and wishes as an internal process of reflection as opposed to connected to and created through situated participation in various contexts.


The thesis conceptualizes career guidance as an institutional arrangement. This gives rise to an analytic focus on how the participants' meetings with career guidance connect to the wider societal issues and conditions that the career guidance practice is seen as an answer to. The analysis of the connectedness between the meaning the participants ascribe to the career guidance practice and the structural issues that guidance is a part of is an important contribution, since this connectedness often is regarded as normative, essential and static, and understood as a basic dilemma for guidance practice. The discussion leads to a new conceptualization of career guidance, where the purpose of guidance would be to create new possibilities for participation in education and work.


The discussions in the thesis are of interest to career guidance and career development professionals, and to those who have a general interest in how institutional practices may be of relevance to the participants' daily lives. In addition, it is of interest to politicians and policy-makers in relation to deliberations over how specific institutional arrangements, such as career guidance, can make a difference to general societal issues.


Finally, the thesis provides an example of systematic and theoretical research into career guidance issues, and considerations of practice research as a mode for research into career guidance problematics. This contribution is of particular relevance to researchers and practitioners who work with and are interested in the development of career guidance practice, policy and research or in the development of practice research in other fields.
Original languageDanish
Place of publicationFredensborg
Number of pages242
ISBN (Print)978-87-7791-298-6
Publication statusPublished - 2009
SeriesSE vejledningsbibliotek

    Research areas

  • guidance, workplace guidance, Critical Psychology, community, Danish folk high school, practice research

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