The Construction of Career Aspirations Amongst Healthcare Support Workers: Beyond the Rational and the Mundane?

18 Pages Posted: 22 May 2019

See all articles by Ian Kessler

Ian Kessler

University of London, King's College London, Department of Management

Stephen Bach

King's College London - Department of Management

Vandana Nath

University of London, King's College London, Department of Management

Date Written: March 2019

Abstract

This article engages with a literature that views the limited career aspirations of low‐paid, low‐status workers as a reasonable response to material and structural constraints. Based on four hospital trust cases studies, the article contests this view, revealing how healthcare support workers in NHS England have retained the cognitive capacity to override such constraints to develop a strong and authentic career goal to become a nurse. This goal is acknowledged by the healthcare support workers themselves as unlikely to be achieved and is therefore presented as a flight from rationality. Its emergence is explained by workplace interactions that allow such an ambition to become taken‐for‐granted. The article deepens understanding of career ambitions amongst low‐paid, low‐status workers, while adding weight to a literature suggesting that career aspirations can be driven by values and norms, not only by a means‐end rationality.

Suggested Citation

Kessler, Ian and Bach, Stephen and Nath, Vandana, The Construction of Career Aspirations Amongst Healthcare Support Workers: Beyond the Rational and the Mundane? (March 2019). Industrial Relations Journal, Vol. 50, Issue 2, pp. 150-167, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3392600 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/irj.12245

Ian Kessler (Contact Author)

University of London, King's College London, Department of Management ( email )

150 Stamford Street
London, SE1 9NN
United Kingdom

Stephen Bach

King's College London - Department of Management ( email )

150 Stamford Street
London, SE1 9NN
United Kingdom

Vandana Nath

University of London, King's College London, Department of Management ( email )

150 Stamford Street
London, SE1 9NN
United Kingdom

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