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How can we 'read' the career of a public figure?

With a date now set for the EU Referendum, politicians are revealing which campaign they will back. Are they campaigning to leave the EU or to remain within it? Inevitably, this has led to some discussion of their motivations, and what consequences their decisions might have for their own political careers.

This is exactly the type of discussion that interests students who are undertaking our Career Studies courses here at CLL. Career Development Theories is currently a core module within our CDCS and CEIGHE courses. We asked Phil McCash (Course Director) how can we read the career of a public figure?

Phil responded:

In everyday life, we often take things at face value. On this course, we help students delve a bit deeper and explore the below-the-surface meanings. One way we do this is by considering the careers of public figures in terms of career development theories. For example, the prominent Brexiter, Boris Johnson, looks like an ambitious confident individual who enjoys the limelight. We might ask the question, why is this the case?

In attempting an answer, we might use the ideas of the theorist Mark Savickas who is interested in the life themes and preoccupations that influence our public roles. It is perhaps relevant that Boris Johnson is reported as a boy to have wanted to be a 'world king'. It has been suggested that this position of power might provide a place of comfort and compensation from other problems. As a child he went through periods of hospitalisation and isolation and endured the pain of his parents splitting up and other difficulties.

Boris Johnson's career behaviour can be therefore be seen as a creative although not unproblematic response to early childhood experiences. It is here that the social and political nature of career is particularly pertinent. Career is often seen as a purely personal possession but it is wider than this. Boris Johnson's career is influenced by his family environment and his actions today have consequences for people across the UK.


Further reading

Savickas, M.L. (2013) Career construction theory and practice, in S.D. Brown & R.W. Lent (eds) Career development and counselling: putting theory and research to work, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Wed 02 Mar 2016, 13:21 | Tags: CLL Careers Studies Unit Coaching CPD