Life Stories and the Psychosocial Construction of Careers


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ABSTRACT This paper describes and interprets the narratives that middle-aged businessmen tell about their careers It draws a symbolic connection between these men's careers and the longings and frustrations of their childhood, revealed in part by the characters that populate these men's stories But the connection is also revealed by something more abstract the formal shape of their stories' plot These plots, which emphasize relentless forward movement, are shaped by career culture, which demands constant advancement But advancement is also a psychodynamic symbol It expresses men's aggressive self-aggrandizement, while denying their desire for affection and their vulnerability to rejection The result of this alliance between psychodynamic motives and social practices is that men pursue one type of recognition–that of aggressive achievement–while they systematically disavow their longing for more personal attachment