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Vocation across the AcademyA New Vocabulary for Higher Education$
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David S. Cunningham

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190607104

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190607104.001.0001

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Calling over the Life Course

Calling over the Life Course

Sociological Insights

Chapter:
(p.91) 4 Calling over the Life Course
Source:
Vocation across the Academy
Author(s):

Catherine Fobes

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190607104.003.0005

Undergraduate education can make it seem as though vocational reflection and discernment is a once-and-for-all event, in which students find sudden enlightenment about their futures. In reality, we continue to discern our vocations over the course of our entire lives. We can better understand this process with attention to sociological categories and particularly to the life course perspective. This approach emphasizes the importance of transitions and turning points, which are here illustrated in the lives of individuals who found their callings through a winding path. This perspective also demonstrates that the advantages and disadvantages that accrue to certain individuals (due to differences in race, class, and gender) have more than merely one-time effects; these experiences accumulate over time, creating a kind of sedimentation that amasses over the course of one’s life. Vocational discernment is most successful when it is attentive to these social factors.

Keywords:   vocation, calling, sociology, life course perspective, life transitions, accumulation of advantage, accumulation of disadvantage, age cohorts, long-term vocational discernment

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