Making Meaningful Career Choices: A Theoretical and Q-methodological Inquiry
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This dissertation investigates the subjectivity of making meaningful career choices among university graduates with three different backgrounds; counselling education, economic education and multicultural. The dissertation was organized into four different parts; 1) introduction 2) theory, 3) methodology and empirical inquiry, and 4) discussion. In the theory part the concepts career meaning construction, human agency and career meaning were investigated and discussed philosophically and theoretically as possible ways of structuring the empirical inquiry in terms of investigating university graduates experience of making meaningful career choices. Career meaning construction was defined as objective, subjective and relational meaning construction. In the theory part, human agency was defined as important for achieving a meaningful career, where the emphasis was on the concepts intentionality and intrinsic motivation as significant elements for constructing career meaning into career choices. Career meaning was defined by three different career concepts; career as a job, career as an outcome of psychological success, and career as a call. In the methodological and empirical part, Q-methodology was explained and discussed philosophically and practically by combining it with the empirical results, which were subsequently presented. Three factors emerged in the Q-methodological data interpretation process. These factors were called; existential meaning, relational meaning and career success meaning. The existential meaning factor emphasised agency and freedom together with other persons, career as more than a job, and personal success as significant elements in constructing meaning into one´s career choices. The relational meaning factor emphasised security, pay and survival, relational and cultural meaning construction, relational career view, and external success as significant elements. Also the relational meaning factor emphasised that individual career choices are not relevant for constructing meaning into one´s career choices. The career success meaning factor emphasised independency, career success and career as more than a job as significant elements. In discussing the three factors, the emphasis was on positive and negative aspects of the factors’ experience of constructing career meaning in relation to persons’ agency. In the existential meaning factor the paradox of being an agent and being free and at the same time wishing to act out one´s career together with others was the focus for discussion. In the relational meaning factor, the process of constructing a meaningful career that is motivated by external influences contra constructing a meaningful career that is influenced by the person him/herself (individual meaning construction) was focal. In the career success meaning factor, the emphasis was on discussing the need for others in climbing up the career ladder, instead of just trusting oneself. Career counselling implications were also discussed in terms of the three factors, and reflections of the whole dissertation were included.