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The Chaos Theory of Careers (CTC; Pryor & Bright, 2011) construes both individuals and the contexts in which they develop their careers in terms of complex dynamical systems. Such systems perpetually operate under influences of stability and change both internally and in relation to each other. The CTC introduces new concepts to account for previously neglected phenomena. The CTC was formulated to address identified shortcomings in existing career theory. Early theories had positive aspects but were partial, segmental, too rational, too individual focused, and divorced from much counseling practice. The authors found attempts at converging the theories unconvincing.
The Chaos Theory of Careers (CTC):
Ten years on and only just begun
Robert GL Pryor
School of Education, Australian Catholic University, Australia
Jim EH Bright
School of Education, Australian Catholic University, Australia
The developments in the Chaos Theory of Careers (CTC) are outlined for the last decade since the publication of the
original formulation in this journal in 2003 (Pryor & Bright, 2003a). The history of the development of the CTC and the
major theoretical constructs of the theory including context, complexity, change, chance, attractors, emergent patterns
and fractals are described. The empirical evidence directly relevant to the CTC formulation and its efficacy as a
counselling approach are reviewed. Practical tools to use with a CTC approach such as assessments, card sorts and
counselling strategies are described. The impact of the CTC approach on practice and theory is discussed. Future
applications of the CTC related to adaptability and cultural diversity are highlighted. It is concluded that the CTC
provides the most coherent and comprehensive current account of career development behaviour that can incorporate
both modernist and post-modernist perspectives. The last decade has demonstrated the theoretical and practical value
of the CTC, but there remains enormous untapped potential to explore in the next decade.
Chaos Theory of Careers, theoretical developments, research support, counselling techniques, future directions
This paper seeks to outline the last decade of work
proceeding from the first adumbration of the Chaos
Theory of Careers (CTC) (Pryor & Bright, 2003a).
Actually the authors’ thinking about what was to
become the CTC (Pryor & Bright, 2011) commenced
in the late 1990s with our disquiet about the prevailing
theories of career development. Our fundamental
objection to these theoretical formulations was that
they did not relate very well to life as it is lived. The
extant theories did not seem to relate well to realities
beyond the immediate challenge to make career deci-
sions, to incorporate the whole of the rest of a per-
son’s life or the context in which such decisions were
to be made. What was needed was a theoretical for-
mulation which was consistent with not only career
development but also with the way in which the whole
universe operated. Why should the influences on
career development be different from those that
brought about life or which shape our cosmos?
Around this time, we had a research grant and started
to investigate issues relating to the multiplicity of
influences on career development including context,
background and geography. We also wanted to inves-
tigate the significance of chance events on careers.
While undertaking this research, we fumbled around
looking for a theoretical framework that could
accommodate the kinds of questions we were
asking. At one stage (Pryor, 2003b), we thought of
naming the theory as ‘the natural theory of careers’,
‘the ecological theory of careers’ or the ‘contextual
theory of careers’ (Bright & Pryor, 2002), but these
did not capture what we had in mind.
In effect what was sought was a formulation which
provided a coherent account of the following:
.Context, that is, that was holistic;
.Complexity since our research confirmed the over-
determined nature of career development;
.Connection, which was not segmental and partial
but rather emphasised the recursive nature of the
.Change, since everything is ever always in some
state of flux and change can be non-linear;
Corresponding author:
Robert Pryor, 8 Kennedy Place, Bayview, New South Wales 2104, Australia.
Australian Journal of Career Development
2014, Vol. 23(1) 4–12
!The Author(s) 2014
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/1038416213518506
.Chance, that is, which took into account the
impact of the unplanned and acknowledged the
limitations of all human control and knowledge.
Increasingly, our reading was taking us into
the realms of more general science rather than an exclu-
sive focus on the career development literature. There
we found that chaos theory provided theoretical possi-
bilities which incorporated much of our thinking and
which presented the opportunity to link career develop-
ment with the overall functioning of the natural world.
Chaos theory fundamentally conceives of the world as
composed of complex dynamical systems. Some com-
plexity theorists (e.g. Bloch, 2005; Page, 2009) prefer the
term ‘adaptive’ rather than ‘dynamical’. We chose
dynamical since it emphasises the changeable potential
of such systems but does not presuppose if such change
is adaptive or maladaptive, since it can be either.
The Chaos Theory of Careers
The CTC initially published in the current journal in
2003 (Pryor & Bright, 2003a) was our attempt to apply
the idea of complex dynamical systems to individuals
seeking to develop careers and to the contexts in which
such development occurs. In passing it should be noted
that Bloch’s (2005) formulation of careers as complex
adaptive systems makes an ontological error in ascrib-
ing to one’s career an existent status when in fact career
is an emergent property from the interaction of indi-
viduals with their contexts. In formulating individual
career development in terms of complex dynamical sys-
tems, chaos theory is able to integrate notions of com-
plexity, connection, change and chance. Such systems
function on the interplay between order and disorder,
stability and change, and predictability and uncertainty
(Pryor & Bright, 2004). Such systems have a range of
specific characteristics in the way they function viz:
.They are aperiodic – that is such systems function
in generally similar patterns but these patterns are
never exactly the same and therefore have the
potential for change;
.They are bounded – that is such systems are recog-
nisably coherent and function within limits or a
finite range of values;
.They are causal in their function – that is such sys-
tems are regulated by deterministic principles and
yet their complexity enables them bring about out-
comes which could not have been predicted;
.They are sensitively dependent on initial condi-
tions – that is, any two systems no matter how
close in their starting positions will evolve in differ-
ing ways since changes with these systems are typ-
ically non-linear due to the level of connection of
influences within and outside each system.
Individuals characterised in these terms are self-
organising systems which seek both survival on the
one hand and purpose and meaning on the other. A
career is a fundamental way in which in a social con-
text such self-organisation can occur, hence its
importance to individuals, communities and nations.
An individual’s career development therefore is the
interaction of one complex dynamical system (the
person) with a series of more or less generalised
other complex dynamical systems including other
individuals, organisations, cultures, legislations and
social contexts (Bright & Pryor, 2011).
A new vocabulary for career
Savickas (2013) has pointed out that new developments
in the career development field are typically charac-
terised by changes in the vocabulary used to describe
and explain the new vision of the discipline. The CTC
has contributed to this process of seeking to come to
terms with contemporary career development challenges
including inter alia, the widespread use of information
and communication technology, the rapidity of change,
the internationalisation of employment, the interdepend-
ence of economies and especially financial institutions
throughout the world and the contractual and episodic
nature of much contemporary employment. The CTC
has both introduced new terms to the field and been
able to integrate some recent concepts into a coherent
theoretical framework. Some examples include:
.Emergence – the occurrence of new discernible
order out of a series of apparently random events
(Pryor & Bright, 2012b);
.Fractals – the traces and patterns evident from the
operation of complex dynamical systems including
individual traits and skills, labour market trends,
family influences and employer prejudices (Pryor &
Bright, 2007b);
.Attractors – characteristics of the patterns of com-
plex dynamical systems especially individuals seek-
ing to come to terms with career development and
life more generally through either open or closed
systems thinking (Bright & Pryor, 2007);
.Complexity – due to the linkages between systems, the
potential for such systems to be influenced by a multi-
plicity of other factors, exogenous and endogenous,
has increased dramatically in the new millennium;
.Phase Shift – the process of radical transformation
of the structure and functioning of complex dynam-
ical systems either gradually (as in developing new
skills through education and training) or as a result
of sudden change (as in changing companies, having
employment terminated or major injury). Bright
and Pryor (2008) used this concept as a basis for
adumbrating major changes required for contem-
porary career development counselling;
.Non-linearity – in CTC terms, this does not simply
refer to a less than linear career development pat-
tern which has been its most common usage;
Pryor and Bright 5
instead, in systems theory, non-linearity refers
more generally to the potential disproportionality
of cause and effect, such that an apparently minor
change in one part of a complex dynamical system
can concatenate out in a major impact within the
system and beyond. This is the so-called ‘butterfly
effect’. This has been used to develop a career edu-
cation technique to facilitate students’ thinking
about the nature of contemporary careers (Borg,
Bright, & Pryor, 2006);
.Chance – one inevitable consequence of complexity
is the loss of predictability and the impact of
unplanned events on individuals’ lives and careers.
As Krumboltz (1998) observed, the stress on
rational decision-making in past career develop-
ment theory and practice actually neglected the
often crucial role that chance events can have on
individuals’ lives and careers;
.Spirituality – along with attendant concepts such as
purpose, meaning, intention, mattering, values and
ethics, has become more prominent as a basis for
career development. Conceptualising spirituality in
terms of the boundaries of complex dynamical sys-
tems enables the CTC to integrate such motives
particularly by reference to the ‘strange attractor’
(Pryor & Bright, 2007b);
.Feedback – because career development is an
ongoing process and since the outcomes of actions
cannot be guaranteed in advance, the importance
of gaining information about the progress and out-
comes of actions taken has risen greatly. Complex
dynamical systems function largely in terms
of either positive or negative feedback and
the recent work of Pryor and Bright (2012b)
has drawn attention to the importance of the devel-
opment and utilisation of feedback systems espe-
cially in developing adaptive responses to
Development of the CTC
Throughout the development of the CTC, attempts
have been made to spread both attention and effort
fairly equally across the three domains of theory,
research and counselling practice.
Theoretical developments
One of the major applications of CTC to career devel-
opment is in the identification of ‘attractors’.
Essentially an attractor is a description of a system’s
functioning. Attractors can be understood as charac-
teristic trajectories of a system, its feedback mechan-
isms, its end states, its boundaries, its reality vision
and its balance between equilibrium and fluctuation
(Pryor & Bright, 2007b). Bright and Pryor (2005)
applied the four general classifications of attractors
to the processes of career development as descriptions
of how people respond to the challenges of working in
the twenty-first century. The four attractors are:
1. Point attractor – the motion of the system is to a
fixed point. In career terms, this is goal-directed
thinking and behaviour;
2. Pendulum attractor – the motion of the system is
characterised by periodic swings between two
points. In career terms, this is conceived as think-
ing and behaviour such as dichotomous thinking,
approach-avoidance, role conflict and priority
3. Torus attractor – the motion of the system is com-
plex but predictable, repeating itself over time. In
career terms, this is thinking and acting in set,
organised, often very disciplined patterns, such
as routines, set procedures, habits, traits and
4. Strange attractor – the motion of the system is
complex, self-similarly repeating but not in exactly
the same way each time through the motion cycle.
Such systems are characterised by sensitivity to
change such that inherent in their operation
there is the potential to transform into another
pattern over time. As Pryor and Bright (2011)
Psychologically, the strange attractor is the ‘edge of
chaos’ where
the human potential to adapt, develop and grow is
along with human limitations of knowledge and
influence. (p.45).
In career terms, this is thinking and acting in light
of both the predictable and the unpredictable dimen-
sions of reality. It is about being logical and rational
in planning and decision-making while at the same
time taking into account, utilising, adapting to and
recovering from unplanned events as they impact
lives and careers.
These attractors can be characterised for career
development purposes into closed and open systems
thinking (Pryor & Bright, 2007a). The point, pendu-
lum and the torus attractors are all different ways to
gain control over career development reality on the
following false assumptions: all outcomes are predict-
able, life should be fair, humans are in control of their
circumstances, the future will be a reflection of the
past and anything exceptional is an aberration that
time and effort will resolve back to the ‘normal’ func-
tioning of the system. Each assumption is false in the
sense that it does not apply to all situations, all of the
time, even though in the short-term it may appear to
be an effective strategy to deal with the world and the
challenges of career development.
The problem with closed systems thinking is that
there are no really closed systems. While systems have
6Australian Journal of Career Development 23(1)
boundaries these boundaries are always permeable
since all things are connected (Barabasi, 2003). As a
consequence change can be multifaceted, overdeter-
mined and non-linear, resulting in limitations on our
capacities for knowing and controlling outcomes.
Thus life, though self-organising, is at the same time
uncertain, contingent, stochastic and unpredictable.
The CTC constantly directs both practitioners and
clients back to this reality, which may offend our
pride, undermine our grandest aspirations of under-
standing and capability or alternatively offer hope and
opportunities beyond our imaginings and predictions
(Pryor & Bright, 2012b).
One of the stark consequences of the open-systems
nature of reality is the inevitability of failure
(Omerod, 2005). In an uncertain world, it is simply
unrealistic to think that all career decisions will
achieve the outcomes expected and the successes
craved for. Therefore, failure in career development
needs to be considered normal, expected, not feared
and not internalised (Pryor & Bright, 2012a). Instead,
failure should be valued, taken into account, moni-
tored, evaluated and responded to as appropriate.
One way to do this is adumbrated in Bright and
Pryor (2012b).
Research developments
Influence of context on career decision-making. Despite
contextual influences being increasingly acknowl-
edged, most research has chosen to focus on a
narrow range of influences such as parents, socio-eco-
nomic status and teachers. From a CTC perspective, it
is not only the number of influences that is important,
but also the complexity that results from the simul-
taneous impact of these influences. Bright, Pryor,
Wilkenfeld, and Earl (2005) provided data that con-
firmed that a range of contextual influences including
perceptions of the impact of parents, siblings, friends,
teachers, geography, the media, films, sporting stars
and politicians, as well as objective associations
between parental employment and children’s actual
career choices may influence career choice.
Chance in career decision-making. The CTC may appear
to be closely related to, or a variant of, Happenstance
Learning Theory (Krumboltz, 2011). However, it
should be clear that the CTC covers significantly
more theoretical ground, than a singular focus on
chance events. Notwithstanding this, the contribution
of Happenstance Learning Theory has been to suggest
the central importance of chance events in career
development. The CTC has been a conceptual stimu-
lus for ongoing research into the role of chance in
career development (e.g. Bornat, Henry, &
Raghuram, 2011; Bright & Pryor, 2012a; Bright,
Pryor, & Harpham, 2005; Bright, Pryor, Chan, &
Rijanto, 2009; Hirschi, 2010). These studies provide
empirical support for the ubiquity of chance events in
careers. The evidence from empirical studies shows
that the majority of people studied report chance
events in their careers ranging from 64.7% (Hirschi,
2010) to 82.3% (Bright et al., 2009). Furthermore,
there is some evidence that most people experience
multiple chance events in their careers, and more
often than not one chance event leads to another
(Bright et al., 2009). Evidence based on subjective
accounts supports these findings (e.g. Bornat et al.,
2011; Krumboltz & Levin, 2004; Peake &
McDowell, 2012; Walmsley, Jameson, & Thomas,
Hirschi (2010) reported results very similar to those
reported in Bright et al. (2005). This replication within
a different culture represents an independent valid-
ation within the career development literature.
Hirschi (2010) provides further support for the CTC
model reporting that people report chance events in
career development, irrespective of the amount of
career planning they had engaged in. That chance
events are so commonly experienced in people’s car-
eers should no longer be surprising and it underlines
the need for approaches such as the CTC which pro-
vides a coherent account of their nature and role as
well as supplying a conceptual framework for
researching chance more thoroughly.
The effectiveness of chaos counselling interventions.
Evidence for the efficacy of counselling using the
CTC has been reported with high school and univer-
sity students. Borg et al. (2006) reported positive feed-
back from Year 11 students and parents after the
introduction of a butterfly model of chance and plan-
ning derived from the CTC. Similarly, Loader (2011)
outlined how the incorporation of CTC units for Year
10 students enhances career education.
Davey, Bright, Pryor, and Levin (2005) showed
short videos to university students containing inter-
views with recent graduates highlighting key CTC
concepts in their recent careers. Measures of career
decision-making self-efficacy and career exploration
including decisional stress were used as measures of
impact. Career decision-making self-efficacy and envir-
onmental exploration were significantly enhanced and
decision-making stress levels declined.
McKay, Bright, and Pryor (2005) reported on a
randomized wait-list control study, where students
seeking career assistance were randomly allocated to
a traditional trait-factor, a chaos group or put on a
waiting list. The traditional group received career
counselling focussed upon strengths and weaknesses,
measured vocational interests and matches to congru-
ent occupations. The chaos group were encouraged to
reflect upon complex influences on their career deci-
sion-making, and unplanned events in careers.
Measures taken pre-post and one month later indi-
cated that the chaos group remained more satisfied
with their counselling and satisfied with the outcome
compared to the traditional group. Irrational thinking
Pryor and Bright 7
about careers declined for the chaos group over the
month following the counselling, but actually
increased for the traditional group. In terms of
career self-efficacy, the chaos group reported more
and greater sustained increases compared to either
the traditional or control groups. Recently, Borg,
Bright, and Pryor (in prep) have found very similar
patterns of results with a chaos-based high school
Career development practice
The CTC has contributed to career development prac-
tice across three domains: strategies for counselling,
techniques and assessments.
Strategies for counselling. Because the CTC emphasises
complexity and connection as fundamental to deal-
ing with the world, a strategy of multiple perspec-
tives is advocated for career counselling. Two
dominant perspectives have been adumbrated: the
convergent and the emergent (Bright & Pryor,
2007). Both perspectives need to be used in the
collaborative process of counsellor and client seek-
ing to meet career development challenges. The
convergent perspective focuses on the probable,
the stable, the measurable, the informational and
the shared. This would include labour market
information, educational entry requirements, aca-
demic achievement levels, assessed skills and
traits, hobbies and past employment. The emergent
perspective focuses on the surprising, the idiosyn-
cratic, the intuitive, the numinous and the possible.
This can include stories, games, parables, spiritual-
ity, meaning, purpose, adaptability, resilience and
response to failure. More details of the CTC coun-
selling strategy can be found in Pryor (2010).
As noted above, the reality of failure is fundamen-
tal to the dealing with an uncertain world. Using the
CTC, Pryor (2013) outlined a strategy for career
development to confront the challenges of human
limitations and failure based on complexity theories –
exploration and exploitation:
1. Work out what really matters now and how work
fits into that;
2. Keep the mind open to opportunities;
3. Generate and try several possibilities;
4. Expect that some of them will fail;
5. Make failure survivable;
6. Seek and examine feedback to learn what works
and what does not;
7. Utilise what works and examine what has
8. Combine and add as seems likely to improve
career prospects;
9. Iterate the process starting back at 1.
Techniques for counselling. The CTC has given rise to a
range of new counselling techniques and the adapta-
tion of existing techniques to explore new dimensions
of career development highlighted by the theory.
These techniques include the following:
.Mindmaps – Pryor (2003a, 2003b) used mindmaps
to explore the fractals for medico-legal purposes.
On the basis of the CTC, Brooks (2009) suggested
mindmaps to explore possible selves as an adaptive
approach to uncertainty;
.Reality Checking Checklist – Pryor and Bright
(2005a) suggested that these 20 belief statements
can be used to identify open or closed systems
.Archetypal Narratives – Pryor and Bright (2008)
used the work of Booker (2004) on narratives to
illustrate ways in which counsellors could help cli-
ents faced with career development obstacles due
to complexity, to begin to tell themselves new stor-
ies and so find new career development paths;
.Card Sorts – Pryor (2007) demonstrated how an
interest card sort could be used to ‘assess complex-
ity’. Pryor and Bright (2009c) developed the
Creative Thinking Strategies cards to assist clients
explore probabilities, possibilities and plans as ways
to use non-linearity in career development. Pryor
and Bright (2005a) indicated how the ‘Sometimes
Magic’ cards could be used to generate new career
narratives. Other card sorts used for CTC purposes
are outlined in Pryor and Bright (2011).
.Career Education Models – Borg et al. (2006) used
a Butterfly Model for career education purposes to
illustrate the reality of the Strange Attractor.
Bright and Pryor (2012a) outlined various chaos-
based strategic techniques to meet the challenges to
contemporary career education.
.Other techniques described for the use of the CTC
in career counselling include parables (Pryor &
Bright, 2006), films (Pryor & Bright, 2005a), col-
lage (Pryor & Bright, 2011), forensic interviews
(Pryor & Bright, 2005a), the visual arts (Pryor &
Bright, 2011) and the Signature exercise (Pryor &
Bright, 2006).
Assessment for career development
Two inventories have been developed derived directly
from the CTC. The Complexity Perception Index
(Bright & Pryor, 2005b) was constructed to assess
key concepts from CTC including the four attractors,
emergence, non-linearity, complexity and spirituality.
The Luck Readiness Index (Pryor & Bright, 2005b)
was constructed to assess dimensions arising from the
need to recognise and be able to utilise the impact of
unplanned events on individuals’ careers using dimen-
sions including flexibility, self-efficacy, risk, optimism
and persistence.
8Australian Journal of Career Development 23(1)
Impact of CTC
Measuring the impact of a theory is a somewhat arbi-
trary and subjective exercise, especially for those most
closely associated with the theory. However, the CTC
has had a significant impact on career development
theory, practice, research and education as the follow-
ing examples show.
The CTC was included and described in detail in
Brown’s 9th and most recent 10th editions of his text-
book and is listed in Table 2.1 (2007, 2011, p. 29) “A
Century of Career Development Theorizing”. This
table begins with Parsons and concludes with CTC.
It is notable that this is the only non-North American
entry. The CTC is also featured separately in the most
recent edition of the Handbook of Vocational
Psychology (Walsh, Savickas, & Hartung, 2013).
The CTC has been consistently reviewed in terms of
its contributions to the career development field in the
annual reviews of career development by nominated
authors in The Career Development Quarterly since
Douglas Hall, most closely associated with the
notion of the Protean career, used the CTC and in
particular the concept of attractors, as a way of
explaining complex career issues (Zikic & Hall,
2009). They argue for career development approaches
that embrace chaos.
We propose moving away from seeing career explor-
ation solely in terms of the static and positivist foun-
dations typical of contemporary career theory and,
instead, focusing on examining the process of career
exploration as embedded in the current notions of
complex, “chaotic” (Bright & Pryor, 2005a), non-
linear, and unplanned influences on an individual’s
career (p. 182).
Bland and Roberts-Pittman (2013) argue that the
CTC is a more suitable career model for today’s
‘working world’ because it promotes ‘career adapt-
ability, vocation/calling (beyond job) and moral
responsibility in work in the postmodern era’ (p. 1).
They conclude that:
Like emerging constructivist/narrative approaches...
the existential and CTC models emphasize a process
of emplotting a seemingly disparate set of micronar-
ratives into a cohesive story in the interest of decon-
structing, reconstructing, and coconstructing clients’
sense of career identities. However, the existential and
CTC models go a step further by providing sets
of philosophical principles that serve as motifs for
guiding the counseling process. (p.15).
The CTC approach has been incorporated as a prac-
tice model in several leading university career and stu-
dent service departments including Vanderbilt
University in Nashville, Simon Fraser University in
Vancouver and the University of Florida. It is also
being incorporated at the University of Boulder,
Colorado and at the Australian Catholic University
amongst other places. It is also being used in a variety
of high schools in New South Wales and Victoria.
The CTC approach has been cited in the newly
released draft national curriculum for the Year 9–10
Work Studies developed by the Australian
Curriculum and Reporting Authority (R. Randall,
personal communication, October 15, 2013). In add-
ition, the Department of Education and Child
Development in South Australia included CTC in
their Careers Strategy Implementation project in
2013. (DECD, 2013). The CTC approach has been
recognised as valuable in understanding careers in
Geriatric Medicine (Bornat et al., 2011), in Nursing
(Price, 2008) and in the hospitality and tourism indus-
try (Walmsley et al., 2007).
Future directions
The importance of patterns in career development has
been highlighted by the increasing emphasis on nar-
rative and metaphor as key concepts. In chaos theory,
fractals represent the emergent patterns of the per-
son’s interaction with the world. In this sense, a per-
son’s life is a fractal and a career is an embedded
fractal within that larger pattern. Pryor and Bright
(2007b) characterised fractals as the traces of attrac-
tors. In this sense, fractals are representations of sys-
tems’ characteristic trajectories (habits, traits and
abilities), the end states to which they move and real-
ity visions (how people see the world) of individuals.
The future challenges for fractals are how to effect-
ively identify such patterns in order to be able to
measure them, to empirically research them and to
more effectively use them in counselling.
Cultural diversity
As the ambit of career development as a discipline
continues to extend globally, issues of cultural differ-
ences in conceptions of inter alia, values, work, com-
munication and tradition have attracted increasing
amounts of attention. Culture is conceived in chaos
theory, as an emergent pattern derived from the inter-
action of individuals in a particular society with
their world. From a counselling perspective, cultural
differences present significant challenges since issues
including those of kinship, responsibility, shame, indi-
vidualism and choice may vary very substantially
across cultures making many of the assumptions of
the Western tradition of career development question-
able, irrelevant and sometimes inappropriate. The
CTC provides a theoretical framework in which
such a clash of systems can be conceptualised
Pryor and Bright 9
Adaptability and resilience
The acceptance of chaos ideas such as complexity,
connection and chance have heightened awareness
among career counsellors of the need for more flexible
responses to uncertainty in life and work. The articu-
lation of the dimensions and processes of adaptability
and resilience have begun to receive increased atten-
tion (Pryor, 2013). The CTC challenges traditional
notions of goal setting (Bright & Pryor, 2012b) and
matching (Pryor & Bright, 2009a) as strategies to deal
with chance, change and uncertainty. Instead, the
CTC draws attention to the evolutionary processes
of exploration and exploitation (Pryor, 2013) and
the use of failure (Pryor & Bright, 2012a) as construct-
ive approaches to career development in a changing
and uncertain world. The elucidation of these pro-
cesses, their practical applications and the evaluations
of interventions based on them remain ongoing chal-
lenges for the future.
Concluding remarks
The CTC’s emphasis on complexity entails the need
for multiple perspectives in career development and
counselling (Pryor & Bright, 2011). Sampson (2009)
lamented the apparent ‘divorce’ of modernist and
postmodernist approaches to career development.
He noted some areas of potential conflict including
that modernist perspectives are based on standardised
approaches to career assessment and counselling,
whereas postmodernist perspectives focus on indivi-
dualised approaches. Using the idea of systems
within systems, the CTC accounts for counsellees as
both specific individuals as well as members of larger
groupings with which they are similar. Another issue
is that of matching, which Sampson rightly indicates
is a process not an event. Pryor and Bright (2009b)
argued from a CTC perspective for the positive
aspects of matching to be supplemented rather than
supplanted by postmodernist techniques, on the basis
that the world in which career development occurs
comprises both objective and subjective contexts. In
fact, it is the contention of the authors that the CTC
offers the most coherent theoretical, research and
counselling perspective for the integration of modern-
ist and postmodernist approaches to career develop-
ment (Pryor & Bright, 2011).
Declaration of conflicting interests
None declared.
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... This may provide individuals with an unrealistic sense of control. However, life has unpredictable construction and decisions like career choice are not always made in a planned and reasonable way (Krumboltz, 1998;Pryor, and Bright, 2003;Pryor, 2010). Unexpected and chance events are influential in career choices. ...
... The unplanned and unexpected events, happenstance, serendipity, and chances can occur throughout making career decisions (Bright et al., 2005a(Bright et al., , 2005bHu et al., 2015;Kim et al., 2017;Ulas-Kilic et al., 2020;Regan, & Carroll, 2017). Krumboltz's (2009) Planned happenstance theory and Pryor and Bright's (2003) Chaos Theory are pioneering studies intended to explain chance events in career. Krumboltz (2009) claimed that the future is unpredictable and emphasized that the impact of unexpected events may be considerable. ...
... These events, which is described as chance in chaos theory, originate from the complexity of human lives and indicate the impossibility of predicting the future entirely by doing plans. Plans and thoughts about the future can change by accidents, diseases, and misfortunes (Pryor, & Bright, 2003, 2011, 2014. Therefore, it is seen that human's capacity of making their own decision is limited due to chance and unplanned events. ...
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This study attempts to investigate the position of chance among the factors affecting the career choices of university students according to gender and willingness. For this purpose, the present study based on rank-order judgments of participants was conducted. In present study, the participants (N = 417) ranked the given ten factors in terms of their perceived impact on university department choices. Further, the participants were asked to describe the chance events they experienced related to career choice. The results showed that 28% of the participants stated that chance plays a role in their career choice. Among the factors affecting career choices, chance ranked seventh in the total sample, sixth in females, eighth in males, eighth in those who chose the department willingly, and third in those chose the department unwillingly by the degree of perceived influence. Overall, these results indicate that chance events were prioritized over others such as family demands, friend opinions and media effect. The findings were discussed and implications for career counselling were presented.
Inclusion and inclusivity are concepts that underlie enormous degrees of change between different locations but also at different times. Knowing about these different traditions and potential pitfalls constitutes—at least in the educational science—a learning aim in and of itself. In order to facilitate learning in that regard, the authors designed and realized a project adhering to the name of the Mapping of Inclusion, in which students and faculty work collaboratively to collect, synthesize, and constantly improve knowledge about inclusion/inclusivity at different places and times. This chapter has three objectives: First, it outlines the problem statement. Secondly, it seeks to clarify its philosophical position regarding digitality and higher education while also tying these together with the specific realization (and embedding) of the Mapping of Inclusion. Third, the chapter will identify, illustrate, and explain power laws of digital teaching.
Ülkelerin sahip oldukları jeopolitik durum, siyasi yapısı, ekonomik durumu, rejimi, diğer ülkelerle olan ilişkilerinde önemli rol oynamaktadır. Gelişen teknoloji ile ülkeler arası bağlantı daha kolay sağlanmakta ve fikirler sınır ötesine geçmektedir. Aynı zamanda teknolojik gelişmelerle belirsizlik üretilmekte ve bir güvensizlik ortamı meydana gelmektedir. Bir ülkede yaşanan herhangi bir problem/sorun kelebek etkisiyle diğer ülkelerde baş gösterebilmektedir. Dolayısıyla günümüzde yaşanan sorunlara bakıldığında Lorenz’in ifade ettiği gibi “kelebek etkisi” belirgin bir şekilde ortaya çıkmaktadır. Bu durum başlangıç noktasına hassas bağlılığı ifade eder. Başlangıç noktasında olan en küçük değişiklik sonuçlarda da değişikliklere yol açmaktadır. Kaos, hayatımızın her alanında vardır ve bununla yaşamak yeni normallik olarak ortaya çıkmaktadır. Bu noktada önemli olan oluşabilecek kaos durumlarını yönetebilmektir. Bu çalışmada, kaos teorisinden bahsedilmiştir. Aslında her olayın bir başlangıcı olduğu ve rastlantısal olmayan gerçekliklerin de bilimde değişikliklere neden olduğu görülmektedir. Bu bağlamda kaos, sadece bilimde değil, hayatımızın içinde de yer alan olasılık noktasına yer verilmiştir. İncelenen olayların çıkış noktaları politik durumlar olmasına rağmen protesto hareketleriyle sınırlarının ötesine geçerek, başka ülkelerde çok başka boyutta kendini gösterdiği görülmüştür. Bu olaylar kelebek etkisini, belirsizlik ilkesini göstermektedir.
In this special issue, we feature reflections from two international researchers, Professor Charles Chen from The University of Toronto, Canada, and Professor Emeritus Mark Watson from Nelson Mandela University, South Africa, who have published their work several times in the journal since the early 2000s.
In acknowledging the contribution of the Australian Journal of Career Development (AJCD's) continuing work to the career development field, this paper briefly outlines the Chaos Theory of Careers (CTC) and its empirical support. Issues relating to closed and open system validation are canvassed. Two types of COVID-19 case study are analysed: a diary study and the pandemic event itself. COVID-19 confirms the CTC's claim that we all live on the edge of chaos.
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The text is an overview, and its purpose is to analyze educational activities that are significant for the choices made by teenagers regarding their educational and professional path. The starting point for the undertaken analyzes is the assumption that education plays an important role in shaping the worldview of students, their behavior and career paths by providing various types of experiences. Analyzes of educational activities have been made taking into account the division into formal, non-formal and informal learning.
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The Chaos Theory of Careers outlines the application of chaos theory to the field of career development. It draws together and extends the work that the authors have been doing over the last 8 to 10 years.
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The significance of both higher education and career counselling is outlined. The predominant matching paradigm for career development service delivery is described. Its implications for reinforcing the status quo in the South African community are identified and questioned. The Chaos Theory of Careers (CTC) is suggested as an alternative theoretical perspective which incorporates both stability and change using convergent and emergent perspectives. The counselling implications of the CTC are adumbrated in terms of confronting uncertainty by moving from closed to open systems thinking; accepting risk; not fearing failure and; negotiating uncertainty through shiftwork paradigms. An example of the application of the provision of career development services to a disadvantaged group is also described. It is concluded that a changed theoretical framework for the provision of career development services can provide a map and a strategy for incorporating stability and change as a basis for social reform and good hope for the nation’s future through higher education.
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The chaos theory of careers emphasizes both stability and change in its account of career development. This article outlines counseling strategies derived from this emphasis in terms of convergent or probability thinking and emergent or possibility thinking. These 2 perspectives are characterized, and practical counseling strategy implications are provided. In addition, an illustrative technique example is described. The authors conclude that the challenges of modern career development demand the complementary and the interactive use of both probability and possibility thinking strategies.
This article examines the concept of career exploration in adult populations. In contrast to the prevailing positive view of career exploration, the authors present a more complex and balanced perspective of this process, addressing some of the barriers to career exploration and the applicability of this concept to different populations. They examine differences between voluntary exploration and forced or chance exploration, discuss how relationships may be barriers to exploration, consider various outcomes of career explorations, and call for a more holistic view of the individual in career counseling.
PART ONE: INTRODUCING CRITICAL REALISM Introduction Key Features of Critical Realism in Practice A Brief Introduction PART TWO: POSTMODERN-REALIST ENCOUNTERS Introduction Realism for Sceptics Postmodernism and the Three 'PoMo' Flips Essentialism, Social Constructionism and Beyond PART THREE: Social Science and Space Introduction Space and Social Theory Geohistorical Explanation and Problems of Narrative PART FOUR: CRITICAL REALISM: FROM CRITIQUE TO NORMATIVE THEORY Introduction Critical Realism and the Limits to Critical Social Science Ethics Unbound For a Normative Turn in Social Theory
Postmodern approaches to career counseling are becoming increasingly popular. Part of the impetus for the postmodern view has involved perceived problems in the assumptions and application of the modern approach. Two points of view have emerged: (a) the modern and postmodern approaches are incompatible, and the postmodern approach is superior to the modern approach and (b) the modern and postmodern approaches are compatible, each with specific benefits and limitations, and individual needs and cost-effectiveness should govern the decision of which approach to use. Key issues to examine in this discussion are standardized career assessment, aggregate career information, matching, and cost-effectiveness.
Through consideration of the recent debate over the issue of convergence in career development theory and using their own research, the authors have developed a systems theory framework of career development. This paper locates the systems theory framework within the extant literature of both the fields of career development and counselling, and attempts to illustrate how a systems theory approach can address current criticisms of career development theory and add to and complement this literature. The influences and processes illustrated in the systems theory framework are also described.