A patterned sequence of occupational roles through which individuals move over the course of a working life, implying increased prestige and other rewards, although not excluding downward occupational and social mobility.
The sociological concept of career began its life in the study of occupations conducted by sociologists such as Oswald Hall and Everett Hughes at Chicago in the 1940s, but was further refined by sociologists within the tradition of symbolic interactionism , and made applicable to areas outside of the simply occupational-suggesting, for example, that there are deviance careers. Thus, Howard Becker in Outsiders (1963) applied the concept to the stages of ‘becoming a marijuana smoker’, whereby smokers learned the technique, learned to perceive the effects, and finally learned to enjoy the experience. Similarly, Erving Goffman inAsylums (1961) discussed the ‘moral career’ of the mental patient, again in three phases: pre-patient, patient, and post-patient. Goffman's work, however, was much more concerned with the shifts in subjective images of the sense of self experienced by patients: how, for example, they were stripped of an earlier sense of identity when others (‘the circuit of agents’) started to define them as mad; how this self became mortified on arrival in a mental hospital; and how patients became charged with building a new imagery of the self and a new identity . Both these studies are also classic instances of labelling theory.
In studies of careers the aim is to uncover the recurrent or typical contingencies and problems awaiting someone who continues in a course of action. There is a contrast to be drawn between the objective career line, in which the recurrent problems of adjustment facing someone on a particular path of change can be predicted (for example, the stages involved in becoming a student, a doctor, or a member of a religious sect); and the subjective career or interpretive acts taken by people as they move through certain changes. Goffman highlighted this contrast in Asylums, insisting that the value of the career concept is its very two-sidedness where ‘one side is linked to internal matters held dearly and closely, such as image of self and felt identity; [and] the other side concerns official position, jural relations and style of life, and is part of a publicly accessible institutional complex’.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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  • Career — is a term defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as an individual s course or progress through life (or a distinct portion of life) . It usually is considered to pertain to remunerative work (and sometimes also formal education).A career is… …   Wikipedia

  • career — ca‧reer [kəˈrɪə ǁ ˈrɪr] noun [countable] JOBS HUMAN RESOURCES 1. a job or profession that you have been trained for and intend to do for your working life, and which offers the chance to be Promoted (= move up through different levels): • My son… …   Financial and business terms

  • Career — Ca*reer , n. [F. carri[ e]re race course, high road, street, fr. L. carrus wagon. See {Car}.] 1. A race course: the ground run over. [1913 Webster] To go back again the same career. Sir P. Sidney. [1913 Webster] 2. A running; full speed; a rapid… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • career — [kə rir′] n. [Fr carrière, road, racecourse < It carriera < VL carraria (via), carriage (road) < L carrus, CAR1] 1. Obs. a racing course 2. Archaic a swift course, as of the sun through the sky 3. one s progress through life or in one s… …   English World dictionary

  • career — (n.) 1530s, a running, course (especially of the sun, etc., across the sky), from M.Fr. carriere road, racecourse (16c.), from O.Prov. carriera, from V.L. * (via) cararia carriage (road), track for wheeled vehicles, from L. carrus chariot (see… …   Etymology dictionary

  • career — [n1] occupation bag*, calling, course, dodge*, employment, field, game*, job, lifework, livelihood, number*, pilgrimage, profession, pursuit, racket*, specialty, thing*, vocation, work; concepts 349,360 Ant. amusement, avocation, entertainment,… …   New thesaurus

  • career — ► NOUN 1) an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person s life, usually with opportunities for progress. 2) (before another noun ) working with long term commitment in a particular profession: a career diplomat. 3) (before another …   English terms dictionary

  • Career — Ca*reer , v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Careered} 3; p. pr. & vb. n. {Careering}] To move or run rapidly. [1913 Webster] Careering gayly over the curling waves. W. Irving. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • career — I noun activity, avocation, business, calling, chosen work, craft, curriculum, cursus, employment, field, job, lifework, line, livelihood, metier, occupation, office, position, post, profession, pursuit, situation, skilled occupation, specialty,… …   Law dictionary

  • career — I UK [kəˈrɪə(r)] / US [kəˈrɪr] noun [countable] Word forms career : singular career plural careers *** a job or series of related jobs that you do, especially a profession that you spend a lot of your working life in Choosing a career can be a… …   English dictionary

  • career — {{Roman}}I.{{/Roman}} noun 1 series of jobs that a person has ADJECTIVE ▪ long ▪ brief, short ▪ brilliant, distinguished, glittering (esp. BrE), illustrious …   Collocations dictionary

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