Use of Metaphors in Understanding Careers

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Kerr Inkson places a reliance on metaphor to enhance our understanding of careers. Critically assess this reliance in relation to the use of 4 metaphors of careers provided: career as actions, roles, relationships and (a) resource.

In the early 21st century, career is a common term used to describe a pattern of work experience that occurs throughout a person’s lifetime (Arnold, 1997). This definition explains that a person has only one career but may have several occupations and a variety of experience. Continual changes in an individual’s career have been impacted by an increase in globalisation, advancement in technology and a change in demographics (Patton, McMahon, 2006). In order to completely understand the definition of careers and how important career development is, metaphors have been used to enhance this. The four main metaphors provided by Inkson (2007) illustrate a greater understanding of careers and career development which are: careers as actions, roles, relationships and a resource. The most effective metaphor that explains importance of career development is careers as relationships. Forming relationships and networking has become an important factor in people’s lives in order progress with their career. This will further be explained with a comparison to the other three main metaphors.

A metaphor is a figure of speech that supports thinking and creativity in different ways and expands on ones understanding in a dramatic way (Inkson, 2007). Metaphors are mostly used to expand a person’s vision about specific careers and their opportunities and threats, which would have not been visible before (Inkson, 2003). In stating this it is important to understand the four metaphors which are important for understanding career development. Career as actions identifies the importance of self-expression and responsibility employees have in the workplace environment in order to achieve personal satisfaction or a goal (Inkson, 2007). It motivates an...
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