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Understanding Careers

Understanding Careers

Second Edition
Additional resources:

November 2014 | 432 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

In the hotly anticipated second edition of Understanding Careers, Kerr Inkson has teamed up with Nicky Dries and John Arnold to take readers on a fascinating journey through the field of Career Studies.

  • Interdisciplinary – the text brings together and critiques a range of perspectives, allowing for a broader and more holistic understanding of the field.
  • Theory and practice – comprehensive coverage of all the key theories and cutting edge research is related to the real world through over 50 cases studies. A new ‘Careers in Practice’ section contains chapters devoted to self-development, career counselling, and organizational practices.
  • International perspective – contains examples, cases, research, references and statistics from a range of countries. 
  • Use of metaphor – the text is structured around commonly used metaphors for careers, helping students relate to the ideas presented and providing a framework for analysis and comparison.

Ideal reading for students considering their own career and personal development, as well as those studying career development, career guidance or human resource management within a psychology, education, counselling or business degree.

Part I: Background to Career Studies
Chapter 1: Career and Metaphor
Chapter 2: Careers in Context
Part II: Images of Career
Chapter 3: Careers as Inheritances
Chapter 4: Careers as Cycles
Chapter 5: Careers as Action
Chapter 6: Careers as Fit
Chapter 7: Careers as Journeys
Chapter 8: Careers as Roles
Chapter 9: Careers as Relationships
Chapter 10: Careers as Resources
Chapter 11: Careers as Stories
Part III: Careers in Practice
Chapter 12: Career Self-Management
Chapter 13: Career Counseling and Helping
Chapter 14: Organizational Career Management


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For Lecturers:

  • PowerPoint slides to accompany each chapter
  • A comprehensive Instructors Manual, including additional in-class activities designed for each chapter
  • Over 20 additional career case studies, with author commentaries

  • For Students:
  • Multiple choice quizzes per chapter for revision
  • Web links from the book, to encourage further exploration
  • Detailed analysis of careers as shown in the Oscar-winning film All about Eve
  • This is a wonderful resource on careers for students, practitioners, and academics – a rich mix of current research, cases, practical examples, and creative lenses (metaphors) for seeing careers in a new way.  It is equally accessible and stimulating for all levels of reader and it’s all presented in lively, clear, and compelling writing - an extremely reader-friendly book!


    Douglas T. (Tim) Hall
    Morton H. and Charlotte Friedman Professor in Management, Organizational Behavior, Boston University

    In this timely update of an iconic book, the authors deepen our understanding of career by inspecting its meaning from multiple perspectives on work lives. The innovations and elaborations in this second edition maintain Understanding Careers’ reputation as a fundamental text in vocational and organizational psychology as well as keystone volume in career counseling.

    Mark L. Savickas
    Professor of Family and Community Medicine, Northeast Ohio Medical University

    A really valuable contribution....very effective in integrating the different branches of career studies. Very clear, and well argued. Right on the mark!

    Gareth Morgan
    Distinguished Research Professor, York University

    Understanding Careers is the essential career studies textbook for general college and university-level courses. As with the first edition, the writing is crystal clear with a highly impressive range of scholarship skilfully marshalled from a number of disciplines relevant to career studies. I have used this excellent book for several years in my teaching and find it helps students easily make sense of the career studies field by linking images with contemporary case studies and exercises. This is a superb introductory text for career development professionals and their clients. This wonderful book has revolutionised the design and content of career management programmes in schools, colleges, university and the workplace.

    Phil McCash
    University of Warwick

    In a series of fourteen highly readable chapters, Kerr Inkson and his colleagues present a metaphorical approach to careers. The result is a series of insightful and contrasting views, each informative in its own right, and together a call for further conversation. Readers will be both entertained and enlightened by this book.

    Michael B Arthur
    Suffolk University, Boston

    A wonderfully original, rich, thoughtful, intelligent and helpful exploration of the complexities of making one's way through life, with excellent practical advice on how to go about doing so. The authors recognize the complexity of career, but use Inkson's framework of career metaphors to provide ways of making sense of it without trivializing as so many books about career do. Anyone using this book to teach or to learn about careers will find it immensely useful, rewarding, and enjoyable.

    Hugh Gunz
    Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

    A masterful blend of carer theory and practice, Understanding Careers offers a wonderfully comprehensive and magnificently engaging look at work and careers in contemporary times.  Kerr Inkson, Nicky Dries, and John Arnold offer in this book both the best careers scholarship for the serious career studies educator and researcher as well as the most useful career intervention strategies for career practitioners, students, and anyone interested in fostering their own career development.  Packed with theory, history, case studies, and practical material, this book is a must read that will serve as an invaluable resource for years to come.

    Paul Hartung
    Northeast Ohio Medical University

    Making an excellent book even better is difficult - but the new edition of 'Understanding Careers' has done exactly that. The authors keep the highly praised core of the first edition - powerful metaphors underlying careers - and add new perspectives on context and careers in practice, leading to a must-read not only for students and researchers of careers, but also for career practitioners. Absolutely recommendable!

    Wolfgang Mayrhofer
    Vienna University of Economics and Business

    A first class text combining the strengths of the earlier version with new ideas from contemporary  research and practice.  The new chapters on career self-management and organizational management systems are perfect additions making the book an invaluable resource for scholars, practitioners and students alike. Kudos to the authors for this excellent piece of work, and lucky us being able to benefit from their collaboration! The teaching aids offer are an excellent 'toolkit' for educators seeking to prepare students for their future careers: innovative, engaging and thought provoking.

    Julia Richardson
    York University, Toronto

    This textbook is the basis for the course Career Theories, one of the courses of the Master Career Management. It's up to date and provides a broad and relevant overview of career theories.

    Saxion University of applied sciences/Open University/NOLOC

    Mr jouke post
    Human resource management, Saxion Universities of Prof Education
    December 8, 2015

    Sample Materials & Chapters

    Chapter 1: Career and Metaphor

    For instructors

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    ISBN: 9781446282922

    ISBN: 9781446282915