Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Business and Management.

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) to the Technological University Dublin, December, 2010.


This dissertation explores how Community Employment scheme participants (former non-employed individuals on active labour market programmes) construct and interpret their career experiences in changing micro-individual and macro-social contexts.
It finds that the former non-employed are largely excluded from career success research. My qualitative study argues that this omission has resulted in a gap in the career and career success literature and research, as there is a dearth of inquiries on the former non-employed. This in-depth analysis addresses this limitation. I contribute to the careers field by demonstrating the complexity and variability of an underrepresented group‟s career (re)constructions through providing a more holistic analysis than previous inquiries by integrating micro and macro positions to appreciate how the participants (re)construct their career identity in an ever-evolving environment.
The study adopts a criticalist and constructivist ontology and a critical hermeneutic and critical interpretive epistemology. It employs a narrative research strategy (understands experience in a person‟s life through their stories), collecting the data through episodic interviews to explore the career success stories of 27 participants.
Using the three-dimensional narrative inquiry space (an approach for restorying field texts) allows me to work through the narratives interpretivistically. It permits me to identify a critical moment in each of the participants‟ lives, a moment over which they had varying degrees of control, represented by a choice/fate continuum, e.g., bereavement, illness or altering family responsibilities. I chart their critical moments onto the cornerstones of the three-dimensional narrative inquiry space, and then plot their reactions to these moments, including their evaluation of the outcome of their career experiences (objective and/or subjective factors), and their perception of their agency, or otherwise, over these experiences (fateful or fatalistic responses). Four different strategies of career (re)construction are distinguished. I also describe the impact of one primary structural influence on their career (re)construction strategies, respectively. To understand the participants‟ change process, Giddens‟ fateful moment is operationalised by cross-referencing each person‟s critical moment, career (re)construction strategy and primary structural influence, with the eight principal elements of the fateful moment. The participants‟ interpretations of their career experiences during periods of discontinuity are also revealed.
The research makes three contributions: (1) fusing career theory with narrative inquiry within a systems framework to develop the Three-Dimensional Career Success Inquiry Systems Framework; (2) proposing seven categories of career success for the sample; and (3) recommending that a career should be synonymous with life career development, entailing one‟s whole life, not just that which is occupationally orientated.
The necessity to incorporate the multifaceted, micro-dynamics of career and identity to comprehend career (re)construction for individuals, in addition to the requirement to take account of structural influences in narrative inquiry in the field of career research, is underlined from the findings.