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Developing the Personal, Dissolving the Political

Authors: James Moir


The emergence of person-centred discourse based around notions of 'personal development planning- and 'work'life balance' has taken hold in education and the workplace in recent years. This paper examines this discourse with regard to recent developments in higher education as well as the inter-related issue of work-life balance in occupational careers. In both cases there have been national and trans-national policy initiatives directed towards improving both personal opportunities and competitive advantage in a global knowledge-based economy. However, despite an increasing concern with looking outward at this globalised educational and employment marketplace, there is something of a paradox in encouraging people to look inward at themselves in order to become more self-determined. This apparent paradox is considered from a discourse analytic perspective in terms of the ideological effects of an increasing concern with the personal world. Specifically, it is argued that there are tensions that emerge from a concern with an innerdirected process of self-reflection that dissolve any engagement with wider political issues that impact upon educational and career development.

Keywords: Personal development planning, higher education, work-life balance, career.

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