Metaphor in education and career discourse

Metaphors are an essential ingredient in conventional, professional, and theoretical communicationand thereby infuse the narratives of people, institutions, and organisations (Ortony, Reynolds, & Arter, 1978). Metaphors are frequently used by individualsto make meaningorby organisationsto frame knowledge in the spheres of education, career, working life (Cameron & Lowe,1999; Inkson, 2004; Lengelle, Meijiers, & Hughes, 2016). Metaphors are largely conventional and often go unrecognised (e.g., my career has really taken off) but may be deliberate and intentional (e.g., my career is a roller-coaster). In the context of career guidance and counselling, a client’s exposure to metaphor can orientate their mindset as well as reveal or conceal their assumptions and perspectives. In turn, metaphors have been shown to influence the attitudes and behaviours of the individual and their audiences (Thibodeau & Boroditsky, 2011; Vreese, 2012).

In this paper we articulate a validated, reliable, and replicable method of metaphor identification, Metaphor Identification Procedure Vrije Universiteit (MIPVU),that may serve as a foundation for deepening understanding of metaphors of career. It does so by offering a practically-oriented, small-scale, step-by-step demonstration of MIPVU on an illustrative sample of student testimonials from publicly available higher education promotional videos from Australia and Norway. The paper draws upon the field of linguistics to buildon the scholarly work of metaphors of career championed by Inkson (2004), Amundson (1998), and Mignot (2000). It contributes a metaphor identification method that can be readily applied to vocational psychology and contextualised to explore the phenomenon of career at a deeper level of experience in metaphor analysis.  

Keywords: career; Higher Education; linguistics; metaphor; narratives; MIPVUS