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Harnessing Diversity: Building bridges… crossing boundaries Gideon Arulmani Keynote presentation International Symposium on Career Development and Public.

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Presentation on theme: "Harnessing Diversity: Building bridges… crossing boundaries Gideon Arulmani Keynote presentation International Symposium on Career Development and Public."— Presentation transcript:

1 Harnessing Diversity: Building bridges… crossing boundaries Gideon Arulmani Keynote presentation International Symposium on Career Development and Public Policy October 24 th 2007, Aviemore, Scotland.


3 Meaning and work Over the ages our attribution of meaning to work has been moulded by ideologies, shaped by the tenets of a variety of philosophies and transformed by revolutions. Today work occurs within a context that is populated by individuals from varied cultural, socio-economic and religious backgrounds. In the contemporary situation, work has to be understood within the framework of diversity and multicultural social contexts.

4 The scope of this presentation Three key points: The source of diversity: Is it a recent phenomenon? Understanding diversity: Is there a mid point? Harnessing Diversity: - Experiences from the field - Pointers toward a way forward Dreams and social realities: I want to fly

5 Does “diversity” have a history? Globalisation: - Is a contemporary phenomenon. …But let’s try and go beyond. -The source of diversity is an intensely studied topic that has generated a wide range of hypotheses and theories. Diversity is related in a very fundamental manner to the processes of human migration.

6 Does “diversity” have a history? Modern Migration In summary it seems modern migration has occurred against the background of: Push – Pull factors Voluntary – Involuntary Specific factors: Colonisation Opening of new frontiers The result of distress disaster, trauma and war Trafficking Industrialisation Work opportunities Theories: Ernest Ravenstein (1800s): Laws of migration Stouffer (1940s). : Theory of Intervening opportunities Zipf (1946) : Inverse Distance Law Lee (1966). : Push-Pull Theory Harald Bauder (2006): “International migration of the worker is necessary for the survival of industrial economies.”

7 Does “diversity” have a history? Pre-modern migration Patterns of immigration are as old as the history of mankind. The wanderings of human beings across the seas and continents are well documented. Homo sapiens appears to have migrated across all of Africa close to 150 millennia ago; began to move out of Africa close to 30 millennia ago; arrived in Eurasia and Australia about 40 millennia ago

8 Does “diversity” have a history? Yes… The human tendency (need perhaps) to move out, populate and replenish the earth, is conceivably the most primordial source of diversity. Migration and population isolation is considered to be one of the four forces of evolution. The source of diversity therefore is elementally linked to our primeval past.

9 Does “diversity” have a history? This is mine! A natural corollary to this movement would have been to claim a location as one’s own. In pre-modern times it was perhaps possible to arrive at a location and ‘claim it as one’s own’. Certain kinds of migration in the modern era allowed and even encouraged this. In fact the phrase ‘to stake ones’ claim’, finds its origins in this sense of freedom. There perhaps were not many difficulties or conflicts with the expression of this freedom, since there indeed were claims to stake.

10 Does “diversity” have a history? This is mine! No! It’s mine! The contemporary situation is different. The contemporary migrant arrives in a location that is almost always already ‘occupied’ physically and culturally by others. Furthermore… Migrants, have not left their cultural norms and values behind. As they go past the immigration counter at a port of entry, they still have in their psychological baggage… their culturally acquired psyche. This includes the values and norms of their ancestors, their hopes, anticipations, their anxieties, their wishes and their terrors, their customs… everything that guided their erstwhile ‘way of life’. It is against this background that the issues that surround diversity must be analysed and understood, if diversity is to be harnessed.

11 Understanding diversity: The battle within “I myself am a second-generation Briton. My mother was, what now would be called an asylum seeker, fleeing certain death in Vienna, arriving alone at Victoria station with a label tied around her neck. I only exist because Britain gave my mother asylum… All my life I have felt the consequential battle within me. On the one hand to be accepted – to obscure my foreignness… On the other hand the competing desire to be true to who I really am, to deny Britishness… to be faithful to my cultural forefathers…” Peter Kosminsky, Film Maker (Britz: How a fictional Bradford family react to being Muslim in Britain; aftermath of the July 2005 Tube and bus bombings)

12 Understanding diversity Beyond ‘exotic value’ Diversity has been celebrated as much as it has been complained about. On battle fields, in board rooms, in the corridors of power, diversity has been fought against and defended. The idiom that has unpinned these arguments has been largely humanitarian and/or ethical in its character. The forces of globalisation have taken diversity beyond ‘exotic’ value and made it a part of everyday living. Many of these questions arise in the interface between the human individual, groups of individuals and the labour market. It has become increasingly important for policy makers, researchers and counsellors to understand how culture and diversity interact. Without diminishing the mandates of morality and compassion, the time has come for diversity to be understood from the point of view of functional accuracy and utilitarian goals.

13 Understanding diversity Two extreme positions This debate has occurred between two positions. UniversalismParticularism

14 Understanding diversity The universalist view Universal common ground, shared across cultures. All-embracing principles that describe as wide a range of observations as possible. Theories of social science have searched for a deep structure, from which human social life emanates (E.g. Marxism, Freudian psychoanalytic theory, behaviourism and Parsonian functionalism). The attempt is at generalization rather than focusing on specific characteristics. The discipline of Psychology for example is said to offer universalistic explanations of human behaviour. The approach lends itself to data generation and analysis based on which nomothetic trends and commonalities can be understood.

15 Understanding diversity The particularist view Rests on the assumption that human experience is mediated not only by universal structures, but by particular cultural characteristics as well. The focus is on culturally learned perspectives that are unique to a particular culture. It is emphasised that beliefs and activities should be interpreted in terms of one’s own culture. The principle of ethnocentrism: "one’s own group is the center of everything," against which other groups are judged. The discipline of anthropology for example is said to offer particularist explanations of human behaviour. The approach provides detailed and comprehensive descriptions of particular situations.

16 Understanding diversity Implications The universalists: Could foster dominance by the more powerful majority culture at the expense of minority cultures Could homogenise and destroy diversity Could miss the trees for the forest The particularists: Could result in ever-expanding constituent groups that perceive themselves as being, different, special, disenfranchised … Could be left finally with nothing more than individual differences Could miss the forest for the trees

17 Harnessing diversity Need a conceptual framework that recognizes: culture-particular characteristics culture-universal characteristics That distinguish one from the other That unite and offer bridges between differences

18 Identify specificities Search for common principles Map specificities on to the broader matrix of commonalities Harnessing diversity Commonalities and specificities

19 Harnessing diversity The Hat Rack

20 Integration without assimilation?

21 Harnessing diversity Two theoretical constructs: Social Cognitive Environments Career Beliefs

22 Harnessing diversity Social cognitive environments Work occurs within a social context: a context characterised by patterns of beliefs and ways of thinking. Social cognitions (Bandura 1989) - patterns of beliefs that have become habitual across groups and guide the behaviour of individuals within that group - embedded in the relational process of social exchanges.

23 Social cognitive environments Mind-sets engendered by social frames of reference give a particular colouring and interpretation to the meaning and purpose of work. Prevailing ideologies and community experiences cohere into a social-cognitive environment. Values – positive, neutral or negative – could be attributed to work in general and to specific occupational clusters.

24 Harnessing diversity Career Beliefs A conglomerate of attitudes, opinions, convictions that seem to cohere together to create mind-sets that underlie people’s orientation to the idea of a career. Can be so deeply ingrained that they may not be identified by their holders as beliefs, but held as unquestioned, self-evident truths. Whether accurate or not, career beliefs exert a facilitative or inhibitive influence on individuals’ orientations to career goals (Krumboltz 1979; 1994).

25 Career Beliefs Types of career beliefs Examination of ‘types of career beliefs’ have pointed us toward common elements that could bind diverse groups together. Our analysis has consistently thrown up three kinds of career beliefs that seem to interlock with career development: - Proficiency Beliefs (value of education/training) - Control and Self-direction Beliefs - Persistence Beliefs

26 Harnessing diversity Two case studies Career guidance based on advocacy and social marketing: Republic of Maldives The Jiva Project, India

27 Case Study 1: Employment Skills Training Project Ministry of Higher Education, Employment Social Security, Republic of Maldives Analysis of the Maldivian social cognitive environment revealed consistent patterns of commonality and specificity along career beliefs

28 CAREER BELIEF THEME PATTERNS OF SPECIFICITY PATTERNS OF COMMONALITY Control and self- direction: “It is the government's responsibility.” “My father will do it for me.” Negation of personal responsibility Persistence: “It’s too hard for me.” “I would rather be unemployed.” Giving up in the face of barriers Saying NO rather than YES to personal engagement with work and career development Proficiency:“I want to go to college.” “I want a practical course.” High emphasis on acquiring education

29 Harnessing diversity Commonalities and Specificities Searched within social cognitive environment both for common principles as well as specificities. Mapped specificities and particularities on to the broader matrix of commonalities. Developed a careers programme that used universalist principles to address culture specific, felt needs.

30 The social marketing campaign Slogan Youth Employment Services YES! YES! BECAUSE I CAN “Yes” Career Counselling Programme

31 The social marketing campaign Logo and Slogan

32 Universalist approach; acultural

33 Universalist principles interpreted into a specific cultural context

34 Harnessing diversity Some evidence (Arulmani, G & Abdulla, A in press)* Glassian Effect Sizes indicating the impact of career guidance on career beliefs * Capturing the ripples: Addressing the sustainability of the impact of social marketing. Social Marketing Quarterly Acultural approach Blended commonalities with specificities

35 The Promise Foundation, India: Career guidance and livelihood planning project Analysis of social cognitive environment revealed the following key social cognitions pertaining to work: - Work is an integral part of life - Work is an extension of life - Work is related to life stages Jiva “Life” in most Indian languages


37 Harnessing diversity Pointers toward a way forward A ccommodate with self-awareness: Recognize cultural encapsulation Is policy guided by a single set of cultural assumptions? B orrow with pride: Cultures can learn from each other Can research begin to consider inter-cultural contributions? C onstruct with reciprocity: Value experience; facilitate placement at appropriate level Can policy address educational equivalence based on experiential criteria? Can training be designed to neutralise differences?

38 Thank You!

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