SAGE Journal Articles

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Article 1:

Gilbert, R., & Constantine, K. (2005). When strength can’t last a lifetime: Vocational challenges of male workers in early and middle adulthoodMen and Masculinities7(4), 424-433.


A few years ago, near the conclusion of an extensive remodel of my home, the man who had framed the structure asked me to accompany him to the side of the home. When we arrived, he showed me a still-moist piece of concrete that had been laid to replace a small, broken area of the driveway. On the concrete, he had etched the words “built by” followed by his name and the date. He wanted to know if he could keep this inscription, or if I wanted him to wipe it away before the concrete had hardened. I was moved by his question. I began to think how signs are often placed in front of major construction projects noting the architect, general contractor, and financier for the building, but that the individuals who actually construct the structure do so in anonymity. I told the framer that I would be happy to have his name remain. A few weeks later, when the remodel was complete, another man arrived to deliver a large refrigerator. Working alone, he removed a massive box from the back of his truck and placed it on a dolly. He then began to push the dolly and the refrigerator up the steeply inclined driveway, past the inscription in the concrete, and toward the house. As he pushed the dolly, I watched as his muscles strained, sweat formed on his brow, and his face turned beet red. I asked him whether, even though I am not a physically strong person, I could help. He said he would like that but, because of insurance issues, it was not possible. Eventually, with great effort, he managed to push the refrigerator into the house and set it in the kitchen. When he was done, I brought him a glass of water and, without thinking, I asked him, “How much longer do you think you’ll be able to do this?” In response, he just shrugged and said, “I don’t know,” but the anxious expression on his face made it clear that a complex set of thoughts and feelings resided beneath his simple words.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Discuss the article’s strategies for vocational adaptation.
  2. Describe specific physical challenges for middle-aged workers.
  3. Explore the article’s relevance for counselors of middle-aged adults.