Changing Career Structures in Small IT Firms
Edited by Julie Ann McMullin and Victor W. Marshall
Chapter 4: Shifting Down or Gearing Up? A Comparative Study of Career Transitions Among Men in Information Technology Employment
Gillian Ranson INTRODUCTION Men in their 30s are at an interesting stage in their work and family lives. This is the decade when, typically several years past the end of fulltime formal education, their work experience begins to take a particular shape, and to accumulate as a particular ‘work history.’ At this age, too, many men establish long-term intimate partner relationships and become fathers. For the current cohort of 30- to 40-year-olds, work experience is being accumulated in a globalizing New Economy which is changing conventional understandings of work and career. This is also an era when traditional ideas about men’s place in family life are being contested. So from a life course perspective, men in this age group may be challenged on more than one front. For men working in information technology, most of whom are young, career transitions are particularly interesting. Information technology work both epitomizes and underpins the New Economy. It is also subject to employment arrangements that are often unconventional. Significant numbers of IT workers are in small, new firms, rather than large established ones; sometimes they are working in short-term contractual arrangements, negotiated directly with clients, or indirectly though placement firms. They are, in short, outside the environment of large, stable bureaucratic organizations on which traditional theorizing about careers has concentrated. As a group, these men are well placed to address many of the questions emerging from more recent scholarly research which is interrogating this traditional theorizing, and moving the study of working life and...
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