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Monday, September 3, 2012

Professional Identity

Diversity Within Retirement[i]

          Since I retired a year ago I have continued to concentrate on conveying information both through my blog and as a substitute teacher for Kwantlen Polytechnic University. I am on the board of the local Senior's Centre (for over ten years) and I canvas for the Canadian Cancer Society. I have taken up Acylic painting and enjoy creating small poems.
         The goal of Dr. Teuscher’s article is to explore “…which factors predicted people’s self definition as professionals or as retirees and…how identity diversity was linked to life satisfaction.”
         Somewhat related to the topic of ageism the author tells us that. “Research studies have shown consistently that people tend to distance themselves from being old, even in older age.”
Further he cites another researcher is as having found that “…in pre-industrial societies a biological understanding of “old age” was defined as an increase in frailty—as being close to death.”.
         How does this connect to retirement?  Considering the above “…the more positively a person’s profession is valued by society the more that person will define him- or herself in terms of his or her profession.”  That is it will significantly influence the importance we place on our professional identity after we have retired. 
         The article also looks at identity diversity outside the work domain. In other words “self-complexity” which defined  “…as the extent to which individuals seem to use multiple self-aspects in defining themselves, as well as the degree these aspects are independent of each other; that is only overlap minimally.” 
         The focus of Teuscher’s research project is to look at the numbers of retiree’s identity aspects.  Thus “…participants were asked to directly rate the importance of different identity domains (such as profession, family, leisure activities, etc) to characterize themselves.”  Below are samples of the six questionnaire topics:
1)   Demographic:              e.g. gender and education level
2)   Satisfaction:                e.g. body fitness, interests, and esteem
3)   Attitude toward aging:  e.g. interest, enthusiasm, and Dependency
4)   Self-Efficacy Belief: confident and competent to:
         a. always manage to solve difficult problems if I try hard enough. 
         b. stick to aims and accomplish goals.
         c. deal efficiently with unexpected events.

5)   Job Deprivation: e.g. missing job and/or enjoying retirement
6)   Importance of Identity: Profession or occupation, leisure activities, and fact that one is now retired

         The research found that there wasn’t much difference in attitude between non-retired and retired professionals. In fact the persons’ profession, or former profession, remained more important than retirement.  Professional identity was connected with “gender, professional status, self-efficacy belief, duration of last professional occupation and job-deprivation.
         Following this I can say that I am not employed but I still have great joy in teaching and helping others.  In part because I was the first born child in our family and I developed an identity by helping others.

i   Teuscher, U, (2010). 105 Change and persistence of Personal Identities after the             transition to retirement, INT’L. J. Aging and Human Development 70(1) 89 

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