Occupational Cycle: Normative and Nonnormative

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  • 0:01 Occupations
  • 1:26 Normative Vs. Non-Normative
  • 3:20 Unemployment, Age, & Mentors
  • 5:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Devin Kowalczyk

Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.

In this lesson, we will explore what occupational cycles are and how they differ. In addition to this, we also look into what affects an individual's choice of career and occupation.


What did you want to be when you grew up? Was it a doctor, a fireman, a dancer, a caterpillar? I wanted to be a dentist when I was younger. I was always a strange kid. Now I'm a psychologist and a teacher, and that ain't half bad. I may even consider going into other, similar fields in the future, like writing a textbook or helping others with court proceedings.

The occupational cycle is a series of occupations that create and move resources. So, for instance, the occupational cycle centered on agricultural food is the company and people who make fertilizer, the farmers, the shippers and the grocers who sell it. Another cycle, a smaller cycle, could be on research, where you have researchers, scientists and publishers.

The larger cycles can obviously be very complicated, with many overlapping bits and redundant areas, or they can be very brief and simple. For instance, our agricultural food example does not even include meat, dairy or processed goods. The four pieces that we looked at were just for vegetables and fruits.

In the rest of this lesson, we will look at normative and non-normative occupational cycles, how unemployment affects them and how aging individuals integrate into it.

Normative vs. Non-Normative

Our two examples of agricultural food and research were extremely simple. The food doesn't include meat and dairy products and research doesn't include applied research. However, both of these are fairly normal in terms of careers. Normative occupation cycles are established and relatively stable job networks.

Think about all the people you know. Are any of them in fields where in the next year it could be gone? I have a brother in serving, a fiancé in school, one parent working with insurance and another unemployed. These jobs, with the exception of the unemployment we will look at in a moment, are normal and enduring. These are typical, normal and, in a million other ways to say it, usual occupations that people take up. There is a certain amount of safety and security in going into these fields, especially as an employee.

Non-normative occupation cycles are atypical or unusual job networks that are often unstable. Look at the past and tell me how many busts or bubbles there have been. The most recent was the dot com bubble where many people poured their work into the Internet, and while some reaped the benefits, many people lost their jobs and future careers. With non-normative occupations, there is often a boom where a new industry is established and many people move in. Sometimes they stabilize and become more normative, like railroads and psychology.

Both railroads and psychology were once new fields, with people migrating into them from other professions and places. The people in it weren't sure if there would be a job next year or if the entire field would collapse in on itself. Examples of failed industries are numerous, with the most popular being the dot com, but there are others, like certain social media outlets, that have just lost their steam.

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