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Publisher Description

What children understand about the nature and meanings of work as well as their conceptualization of certain occupations has become increasingly important in the global economy. Researchers interested in expanding the number of individuals in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) areas as well as developing a broadly STEM-literate citizenry are particularly cognizant of the significance of career pathways from childhood through adulthood (National Academy of Engineering (NAE), 2008). Similarly, different countries, and the cultural groups within those countries, also have interests in children's development of particular career knowledge, skills, and abilities, insofar as these characteristics form or can be shaped into careers that assist national, regional, and local agendas (e.g., Fowler, Gao, & Carlson, 2010; see also Partnership for 21st Century Skills (www.p21.org)). Yet, there still is much to learn about career socialization processes, particularly in the world of work, for very young children, and in non-Western cultures, since most research has been conducted on family and formal educational socialization processes, for pre-adolescent and young adult groups, and in Western industrialized contexts (Jablin, 2001). In the spirit of Guo-Ming Chen's (2009) recent essay, the aim of this study is not to pit West against East, but to understand dialogic opportunities of incorporating both perspectives into studies of human communication. Investigating communication about careers to which children aspire (and which they reject) provides a lens into the early formations of careers, as well as possible ways of encouraging skills and interests considered valuable nationally and globally. This study is part of a multinational pilot investigation funded by Purdue University's College of Engineering into young children's discourses about work and career. The goals of the overall project were to study how young boys and girls (aged 3 to 10 years) from several nations (i.e., Belgium, China, Lebanon, and the United States of America) talked about their career interests, meanings of work, and career socialization agents. The study reported here focuses primarily on 267 children from China, but does make reference to findings from the larger project as well. In doing so, we contribute not only to cross-national research in an under-researched group and topic, but also to understanding the ways Chinese children communicate about their career aspirations and the socialization agents who have influenced expressed choices.

Professional & Technical
January 1
Edmondson Intercultural Enterprises
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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