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Agricultural colleges; College attendance; Career development


While a considerable literature has accumulated on career development, most of it, as can be expected, has been produced by persons with counseling, psychological or labor market orientations. Hence, little in the current literature applies directly to a sociological conception of careers. Three recently published works in divergent ways sum up the field: The Sociology of Work, by Theodore Caplow (1954) The Organization Man, by William Whyte (1957) and Men and their Work by Everett Hughes (1958). While these works contain valuable insights, all of them focus primarily on activities which are the consequences of careers and career decisions without inquiring into the relation between career lines and other aspects of social behavior. There is thus a kind of vacuum in career study.

However, one of the classics of early sociology, Thomas' and Znaniecki's The Polish Peasant (1919) suggested a theoretical approach with great promise for the study of this aspect of careers. Two ideas, essentially corollaries, form the core of the theoretical argument: the idea that a man's life may be subject to "typical lines of genesis" and the idea that an individual may develop "life organization". Lines of genesis refer to social channeling of personality formation. Life organization is the resulting total structure of personal history.

Roles, into which personal histories are often analyzed since Mead (1934), may be viewed as the subunits of lines of genesis and life organizations. Career study in this view becomes the examination of the clustering of roles, past, present and future, each having particular ordering or limiting effects upon subsequent roles in the series.

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