Social justice and career development: Progress, problems, and possibilities

Ellen Hawley McWhirter, Ishbel McWha-Hermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Drawing on scholarship in the fields of vocational and industrial/organizational (VIO) psychology, we propose a definition of social justice and assess progress and problems in achieving it. Using a critical psychology lens, we find that the historical focus on higher-income settings and workers with relatively privileged status reflects the neoliberal underpinning implicit in most of VIO psychology. We identify five marginalizing conditions that act at macro levels to perpetuate the status quo and restrict progress toward social justice: group bias, forced movement of people, poverty, unemployment, and lack of decent work. Our review of these conditions accentuates the necessity of social justice praxis at multiple ecological levels to effect significant progress. We propose a set of recommendations for the future that highlight the importance of articulating and deconstructing context, power, and perception implicit in extant VIO endeavors.
Our recommendations challenge the field to: (1) extend the scope of the locations and range of ecological levels at which VIO research and practice are carried out, (2) highlight who is and is not served and benefitted by VIO research and practice, and (3) question the underlying values and ideological assumptions of existing VIO research and practice. We call for greater critical consciousness among VIO psychologists in order to ensure the relevance and benefit of our research and practice for all workers around the globe.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103492
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of vocational behavior
Early online date20 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • social justice
  • critical psychology
  • neoliberalism
  • global
  • critical consciousness
  • decent work


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