Integrating the disciplines: Applying sociology of third space to contemporary, constructivist career development


  • Natalia Veles James Cook University
  • Sujin Kim James Cook University



Career development, Multidisciplinarity, Cultural sociology, Third space concept, Systems theory


The field of career development is grounded in diverse sociological perspectives contributing to addressing the complex interplay between individuals and societal contexts. This paper advocates for the use of a third space theory from cultural sociology traditions to working with marginalised clients and developing culturally sensitive career interventions. Within this theory, the relationship between career counsellor and client is conceptualised as a productive boundary zone of an intercultural dialogue, which occurs in a broader environmental-societal system and supports the use of Systems Theory Framework of career development.


Akkerman, S. F., Admiraal, W., Simons, R. J., & Niessen, T. (2006). Considering diversity: Multivoicedness in international academic collaboration. Culture & Psychology, 12(4), 461–485.

Akkerman, S. F., & Bakker, A. (2011). Boundary crossing and boundary objects. Review of Educational Research, 81(2), 132–169.

Akkerman, S. F., & Bruining, T. (2016). Multilevel boundary crossing in a professional development school partnership. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 25(2), 240–284.

Allan, B. A. (2023). Redefining the health of the labor market: Worker flourishing as a new index. In D. L. Blustein & L. Y. Flores (Eds.), Rethinking work: Essays on building a better workplace (pp. 43-47). Routledge.

Allan, B. A., Autin, K. L., & Wilkins-Yel, K. G. (2021). Precarious work in the 21st century: A psychological perspective. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 126, 103491. https://

Arthur, N. (2017). Constructivist approaches to career counselling: A culture-infused approach. In M. McMahon (Ed.), Career counselling: Constructivist approaches (2nd ed., pp. 54–64). Routledge.

Arthur, N., & Collins, S. (2011). Infusing culture in career counselling. Journal of Employment counselling, 48, 147–149.

Arthur, N., & McMahon, M. (Eds.). (2019). Contemporary theories of career development: international perspectives. Routledge.

Arthur, N., & McMahon, M. (2019). Contemporary career development theories: Expanding international perspectives. In N. Arthur & M. McMahon (Eds.), Contemporary Theories of Career Development (pp. 241–257). Routledge.

Aveling, E. L., Gillespie, A., & Cornish, F. (2015). A qualitative method for analysing multivoicedness. Qualitative Research, 15(6), 670-687.

Bhabha, H. K. (1994). The location of culture. Routledge.

Blustein, D. L. (2013). The Oxford handbook of the psychology of working. Oxford University Press.

Blustein, D. L., Kenny, M. E., Di Fabio, A., & Guichard, J. (2019). Expanding the impact of the Psychology of Working: Engaging psychology in the struggle for decent work and human rights. Journal of Career Assessment, 27(1), 3–28.

Carr, S. (2023). From unsustainable jobs to sustainable livelihoods. In D. L. Blustein & L. Y. Flores (Eds.), Rethinking work: Essays on building a better workplace (1st ed., pp. 118-122). Routledge.

Collin, A. (2009). One step towards realising the multidisciplinary of career studies. In A. Collin & W. Patton (Eds.), Vocational psychological and organisational perspectives on career: Towards a multidisciplinary dialogue (pp. 3–18). Sense.

Collin, A., & Patton, W. (2009). Vocational psychological and organisational perspectives on career: Towards a multidisciplinary dialogue. Sense.

Deloitte Insights (2023). New fundamentals for a boundaryless world. 2023 Global Human Capital Trends Report.

De Vos, A., Van der Heijden, B. I. J. M., & Akkermans, J. (2020). Sustainable careers: Towards a conceptual model. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 117, 103196.

Di Fabio, A., & Blustein, D. L. (2016). Editorial. Frontiers in Psychology. Organizational Psychology, 7, 1119.

Di Fabio, A., Medvide, M. B., & Kenny, M. E. (2022). Psychology of working theory: Decent work for decent lives. In S. C. Carr, V. Hopner, & D. Hodgetts (Eds.), Tackling precarious work: Toward sustainable livelihoods. Routledge/SIOP Frontiers.

Duffy, R. D., Blustein, D. L., Diemer, M. A., & Autin, K. L. (2016). The psychology of working theory. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 63, 127–148.

Foucault, M. (October 1984). "Des Espace Autres". Architecture, Mouvement, Continuité. 5, 46–49.

Gander, M., Girardi, A. and Paull, M. (2019). The careers of university professional staff: A systematic literature review. Career Development International, 24(7), 597-618.

Gunz, H. (2009). The two solitudes: The vocational psychological/organisational gap as seen from the organisational perspective. In A. Collin & W. Patton (Eds.), Vocational psychological and organisational perspectives on career: Towards a multidisciplinary dialogue (pp. 19–27). Sense.

Hall, D. T. (2004). The protean career: A quarter-century journey. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 65(1), 1-13.

Hambly, L., & Bomford, C. (2019). A brief history of career development theory. In Creative Career Coaching (pp. 13–26). Routledge.

Holland, J.L. (1959) A theory of vocational choice. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 6, 35–45.

Holland, J. L. (1985). Making vocational choices: A theory of vocational personalities and work environments (2nd ed.). Prentice Hall.

Ikas, K., & Wagner, G. (2009). Communicating in the third space. Routledge.

Kalleberg, A. (2018). Precarious lives: Job insecurity and well-being in rich democracies. Polity Press.

Lamont, M., Beljean, S., & Clair, C. (2014). What is missing? Cultural processes and causal pathways to inequality. Socio-Economic Review, 12(3), 573–608.

Lamont, M., & Molnár, V. (2002). The study of boundaries in the social sciences. Annual Review of Sociology, 28(1), 167-195.

Lefebvre, H. (1974). The production of space. Blackwell Publishing.

Lent, R. W., & Brown, S. D. (2019). Social cognitive career theory at 25: Empirical status of the interest, choice, and performance models. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 115(103316). 1-14.

Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., & Hackett, G. (1994). Toward a unifying social cognitive theory of career and academic interest, choice, and performance. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 45(1), 79–122.

Massey, D. (1993). Questions of locality. Geography, 78(2), 142-149.

Massey, D. (2005) For space. Sage.

McIntosh, E., and Nutt, D. (2022). The impact of the integrated practitioner in higher education: Studies in third space professionalism. Routledge.

McMahon, M., & Patton, W. (1995). Development of a systems theory framework of career development: A brief overview. Australian Journal of Career Development, 4, 15–20.

Moran, E., & Misra, D. (2018). Professional doctorates: A pathway to legitimacy for non-academic HE professionals? London Review of Education. Advance online publication.

Obexer, R. (2022). Lost in third space: Identity work of a “blended professional” in higher education. Studies in Technology Enhanced Learning, 2(3).

Parsons, F. (1909). Choosing a vocation. Houghton Mifflin.

Patton, W., & McMahon, M. (2021). Career development and systems theory: Connecting theory and practice (4th ed.). Brill.

Roberts, K. (1975) The developmental theory of occupational choice: A critique and an alternative. In Esland, G., et al. (Eds), People and work. Holme McDougall.

Schwartz, J., Hatfield, S., Jones, R., & Anderson, S. (2019). What is the future of work? Redefining work, workforces and workplaces. Deloitte Insights (Part of a Deloitte series on the future of work).

Small, Mario L., David J. Harding, and Michèle Lamont. 2010. Introduction: Reconsidering culture and poverty. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 629, 6–27.

Smith, N. (2004). Space and substance in geography. In P. Cloke, P. Crang, & M. Goodwin (Eds.). Envisioning human geographies (pp. 11–29). Routledge.

Soja, E. (1996). Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and other real-and-imagined places. Blackwell.

Soja, E. (2010). Seeking spatial justice. University of Minnesota Press.

Super, D. (1990) A life-span, life-space approach to career development. In Brown, D., Brooks, L., and Associates (Eds.). Career choice and development (2nd ed., pp. 197–261). Jossey-Bass.

Tsang, A., & Lamont, M. (2018). How can cultural sociology help us understand contemporary Chinese society? The Journal of Chinese Sociology, 5(1), 1–8.

United Nations (2015). Sustainable development goals: 17 goals to transform our world.

Van der Heijden, B. I. J. M., & De Vos, A. (2015). Sustainable careers: Introductory chapter. In A. De Vos, & B. I. J. M. Van Der Heijden (Eds.). Handbook of research on sustainable careers (pp. 1–19). Edward Elgar Publishing.

Veles, N. (2022). Optimising the third space in higher education: Case studies of intercultural and cross-boundary collaboration (1st ed.). Routledge.

Veles, N., Graham, C., & Ovaska, C. (2023). University professional staff roles, identities and spaces of interaction: Systematic review of literature published in 2000-2020. Policy Review in Higher Education, 7(3), 127-168.

Vondracek, F. W., & Porfeli, E. J. (2008). Social context for career guidance throughout the world: Developmental-contextual perspectives on career across the lifespan. In J. A. Athanasou & R. Van Esbroeck (Eds.). International handbook of career guidance (pp. 209–225). Springer Science & Media.

Whitchurch, C. (2023). Rehabilitating third space professionals in contemporary higher education institutions. Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor, 33, 24-35.

Whitchurch, C. (2018). Being a higher education professional today: Working in a third space. In C. Bossu & N. Brown (Eds.), Professional and support staff in higher education (pp. 11–22). Springer.

Whitchurch, C. (2012). Reconstructing identities in higher education: The rise of “third space” professionals. Taylor and Francis.

Whitchurch, C. (2008). Shifting identities and blurring boundaries: The emergence of third space professionals in UK higher education. Higher Education Quarterly, 62(4), 377–396.