The aspiration generation. The aspirations and implementation strategies of young Londoners at risk of educational underachievement

Lorinc, Magdolna (2019) The aspiration generation. The aspirations and implementation strategies of young Londoners at risk of educational underachievement. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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Education policy in the United Kingdom has been dominated by a discourse emphasizing the role of individual aspirations and responsibility, while overlooking structural obstacles to positive educational outcomes. In this discourse, young people are expected to become ‘intelligent customers’ in the education market, capable of making financially sound informed choices regarding their occupational aspirations and educational strategies. At a time when youth transitions are becoming increasingly messy, complex and non-linear, it is more important than ever to identify and understand the processes and mechanisms that can help young people to navigate successfully the period between compulsory education and (stable) employment.

Drawing primarily on Bourdieu’s ‘analytical toolkit’ including the theory of capitals and the concept of illusio, this thesis aims to provide a more holistic understanding of the processes and mechanisms that shape the aspirations of young people, who, at the end of compulsory education, were identified as being at risk of educational underachievement, thus facing particularly difficult transitions to the labour market, further or higher education. It also explores the strategies employed by young people to negotiate risk and opportunity in their transition from compulsory education to the next steps in their lives.

My doctoral study had a longitudinal qualitative research design. The findings are based on in-depth, semi-structured repeat interviews with 15 young people from London, all between the ages of 16 and 21; from diverse ethnic, migration and educational backgrounds. The 30 interviews were conducted as part of a large, EU-wide project, Reducing Early School Leaving in Europe (2013-2018), funded by the European Commission.

The thesis contributes to the literature on aspirations and youth transitions through investigating the reproduction of social inequalities in education and during post-school transitions, on the one hand, and young people’s agentic potential, on the other. This research provides new insights into the process of constructing aspirations and strategies of implementations, while alternating focus between young people’s underlying beliefs, values and attitudes that shape this process, and the opportunity structures of their lives.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
A. > School of Law > Social Policy Research Centre
B. > Theses
Item ID: 29625
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2020 16:35
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2021 16:49

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