A narrative exploration of the social implications of career choices by Indian South African professionals.
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The purpose of this study was to examine the socio-economic factors that impacted the career narratives of South African Indian Professionals. A review of the literature suggested that traditional career theories viewed an individual in isolation of their context, allowing their career choice to be an independent decision. Further literature has, however, shown that with the constant evolution of an individual’s context, their career choice was limited and promoted by factors in their environment which included, but were not limited to, the political era of the time, their access to education and the influences that their family provided. This research drew upon two critical schools of thought, namely Social Constructionism and the Systems Theory Framework. These guided the research towards a qualitative research design that examined the career narratives of seven South African Indian professionals through semi-structured interviews conducted in the first half of 2017. In order to achieve the aims of the study, a thematic analysis, coupled with the voice-centred relation method was used to critically analyse the career narratives of these individuals. The results revealed three central themes, viz. Navigating Status: Exposure and Access; Construction of Self; and Family. The manner in which the career choice of an individual was influenced existed external to the their self. The participants’ environments dictated the manner in which they had access and exposure to information that informed their career choices. Beyond this, their environments impacted the manner in which they constructed their view of the self and critical in this was that contrary to traditional career theory, their self was not created in isolation. In some instances, participants described the restrictive nature of elements within their environments but also highlighted potential buffers which included, but were not limited to, family support. The reflexive nature of the narratives allowed the participants to make these observations without being unduly influenced by the researcher.