The family career development project in Chinese Canadian families

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  • The family career development project inChinese Canadian families

    Richard A. Young,a,* Jessica Ball,b Ladislav Valach,c

    Hayley Turkel,a and Yuk Shuen Wonga

    a Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education,

    University of British Columbia, 2125 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4b School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria, P.O. Box 1706, Victoria, BC, Canada V8W 2Y1

    c Psychiatric Clinic, University of Zurich, Lenggstrasse, 21, P.O. Box 68, 8029 Zurich, Switzerland

    Received 26 November 2001


    Based on an action-theoretical conceptualization, this research examined the family career

    development project in Chinese Canadian families. Six families, each composed of a parent

    and adolescent, participated in a videotaped conversation to determine a family career devel-

    opment project that was subsequently monitored over a 6-month period and followed up with

    a second videotaped conversation. The further analysis of these data from a larger data set of

    20 Chinese Canadian and European Canadian families resulted in the delineation of several

    properties of the career development project in Chinese Canadian families, including the im-

    portance of the parental agenda, the adolescents involvement, parental communication ofconvincing reasoning, and the adolescents withholding and withdrawing response. The nd-ings also indicated that a family career development was central to other higher order projects

    in the family, including the relationship and cultural projects. The data supported the under-

    standing of project as joint goal-directed action over time and as the basis on which career

    development inuence was organized in these families.

    2003 Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.

    Keywords: Project; Family career development; Communication; Parental; Action theory; Conversation;

    Family; Relationship project; Chinese-Canadian

    *Corresponding author. Fax: +604-822-2328.

    E-mail address: (R.A. Young).

    Journal of Vocational Behavior 62 (2003) 287304

    0001-8791/03/$ - see front matter 2003 Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/S0001-8791(02)00022-2

  • 1. Introduction

    Family involvement in the career development of adolescents may be particularly

    salient among Chinese Canadian families. For example, in a review of the literature

    on the career development of Asian Americans, Leong and Seraca (1995) concludedthat Asian-American parents are inclined to provide strong parental guidance, par-

    ticularly in regard to careers. This reects the widely held belief in the social sciences

    generally (e.g., Sue & Morishima, 1982) that the family plays a more central role in

    the lives of Asian Americans than European Americans. For example, parents value

    education highly and hold high educational and occupational expectations for their

    children (Lin & Fu, 1990). They also identify careers in the sciences, technology, and

    engineering as bringing the requisite prestige, income and security (e.g., Leung, Ivey,

    & Suzuki, 1994). Notwithstanding the specic values that these parents hold in rela-tion to the career development of their children, the literature has not described the

    process by which Asian American or Asian Canadian parents and adolescents con-

    vey, react to, and act on these values, expectations, and attitudes.

    The present study examined the career development of Chinese Canadian adoles-

    cents as it was experienced in their families. It was based on the conceptualization of

    the family career development project as the joint activities that parents and adoles-

    cents engage in together to foster the career development of the adolescent (Young,

    Valach, & Collin, 1996). When a series of actions, over time, coalesce around com-mon goals, one may speak of a project. A family career development project is gen-

    erated within a family as part of the parenting and growing up process. It is an

    enterprise carried out by the family itself, oriented toward a goal, and based on

    the denition of a task. This framework expresses a cultural approach to psychology

    (e.g., Bruner, 1990; Cole, 1996), one that grounds the analysis of everyday events on

    action in context, views the emergence of mind as co-constructed, and acknowl-

    edges the central role of interpretation in its explanatory framework. Relatively little

    research has investigated the notion of project in career development and no researchhas conceptualized parental inuence in the career development of their children as a

    socially based, goal-directed family project.

    This study was based on the extended analysis of previously reported data that

    addressed the family career development project in Chinese Canadian and European

    Canadian families (Young et al., 2001). The earlier analysis identied and described

    ve properties of the family career development project: joint goals, communication,

    goals-steps congruence, parental agenda, and individuation. It also found that family

    career development projects were embedded in other on-going family projects in-cluding the relationship, parenting, identity and cultural projects. The present anal-

    ysis examined the Chinese Canadian families specically to elucidate the properties

    of the family career development project for this group of participants. In addition,

    the analysis examined the relation between the family career development project

    and other family projects in which it was embedded, particularly the cultural project.

    Substantial research supports specic values that should be considered in the ca-

    reer development of Chinese Canadian adolescents and the role of the family in it.

    For example, Kim, Atkinson, and Yang (1999) identied 14 domains of Asian

    288 R.A. Young et al. / Journal of Vocational Behavior 62 (2003) 287304

  • values, several of which directly relate to career development and the familys role init. Foremost among these is that educational and occupational achievement should

    be an individuals top priorities. Respect for parents, lial piety, and the importanceof family are other values that are likely to have a direct role in the process of career

    development in Asian families (Chao, 1994).The reasons for migration from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Peoples Republic

    of China (PRC) to North America are complex, but include political and socioeco-

    nomic conditions (Wang, 1998). Ma (2000) found that the Chinese cultural emphasis

    on education underlies the context in which migration decisions are made. Wang

    also found that, among professionals emigrating from the PRC, a shift from collec-

    tivist to individualist ideologies contributed to the explanation of the migration de-

    cision. Thus, one cannot abstract the career development process of parents and

    their adolescent children in immigrant Chinese Canadian families from the contextof emigration from Asia and immigration to Canada.

    Citing Berry (1990, 1994), Kim, Atkinson, and Umemoto (2001) indicated that

    two processes occur simultaneously for ethnic groups in new cultural contexts, encul-

    turation and acculturation. Enculturation refers to the process of retaining cultural

    norms of ones indigenous culture, while acculturation is the process of adopting thenorms of the dominant society. At the same time as processes of enculturation occur,

    Asian Canadian families are to a greater or lesser extent acculturating to North

    American society. For example, Ishii-Kuntz (2000) found that some Asian Americanparents teach their children two overlapping sets of values. Second-generation Chi-

    nese in English language counties showed higher levels of acculturation than their

    parents (Dion & Dion, 1996). Leong and Tata (1990) found that among Chinese

    American children, acculturation to the dominant culture signicantly aected val-

    ues consistent with the European American culture. Parents involvement with theirchildren is related to the processes of acculturation/enculturation. In a qualitative

    study of Chinese immigrant families from Taiwan, Hong Kong and the PRC to

    the United States, Chang (2000) concluded that parents commitment to their chil-dren promoted adaptation, success and prosperity.

    The values, outcome and involvement of Chinese Canadian families related to the

    career development of their children warrant the further examination of the data on

    the Chinese Canadian families in this study. The literature reviewed suggests that ca-

    reer development of adolescents may well involve goal-directed actions over time,

    undertaken conjointly by parents and adolescents. Inasmuch as this literature fo-

    cuses specically on Chinese families who are immigrants to North America, career

    development as joint goal-directed action may have characteristics particular to thisgroup. The researchers (Young et al., 2001) have already established that the family

    career-development project is a heuristic means to understand career development in

    families. In light of our previous identication of the properties of the family career-

    development project, and its embeddedness in other projects, this study addressed

    two questions: What are the specic characteristics of the properties of the family

    career-development project in Chinese Canadian families? What other goals and

    actions, identied as projects, are concomitant with the family career-development

    project in Ch