From vocational scholars to social justice advocates: Challenges and opportunities for vocational psychology research on the vulnerable workforce

Simon Restubog, C.M. Deen, A. Decoste, Yaqing He

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20 Citations (SciVal)


The prevailing issues of exclusion and inequality have amplified the plight of the vulnerable workforce worldwide. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Journal of Vocational Behavior, it is timely to examine and reflect upon the state of scholarship about vulnerable workers. While there is burgeoning interest in this domain of research, current work mostly covers specific groups of workers (e.g., LGBT employees, persons with disabilities) while other vulnerable groups continue to be overlooked. In this essay, we advocate for increased scholarship on understudied vulnerable workers including 1) workers with chronic illness, 2) workers with mental illness, 3) immigrants and migrants, 4) refugees, 5) victims of violence, and 6) ex-offenders. We start by addressing the issue of definitional clarity, differentiating vulnerable workers from vulnerable work, and offering an interactionist perspective in conceptualizing vulnerable workers. We also discuss the results of a targeted literature review identifying emerging themes and methodological trends. Finally, we recommend future research directions, methodological refinements, and pragmatic solutions for research challenges to guide scholars interested in this line of inquiry.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103561
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Early online date20 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2021

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