ERG SES G 07, Education and Secondary Schools
This paper examines both the future worries of lower secondary school students and the effects perceived parental support has on them. In European knowledge economies, young people planning their pathways through education and into the labour market are faced with multiple choices and possibilities but also a number of risks and uncertainties. The expansion of education has increased educational opportunities and participation, while the rising educational level of the population has caused an inflation of the relative value of educational degrees and strengthened the link between educational qualifications and occupational positions (Gangl 2003). There are a growing number of young people failing to complete any post-compulsory education and even for the ones with post-compulsory diplomas the transition from education to work has become more difficult and the risk of unemployment has increased (Müller & Wolbers 2003). For many young people, there is a contradiction between the rhetoric about good education leading to secure and attractive careers and the perceived reality in their social surrounding with the actual destinations of older peers, who are often either unemployed or have had to settle for low-status jobs (Walther et al. 2006).
The prevailing neoliberal discourse paints a rather different picture. As a result of the intrusion of economic terminology and ruling ideology into the world of education, a discourse evolving around principles such as economic rationality, consumer choice and competition, has emerged (Bunar 2008). The neoliberal discourse constitutes the individual as a subject of choice whose life course is shaped by the imperatives of the labour market in which they will become mobile and flexible workers making rational choices (Bansel 2007). As individuals, learners are expected to assume personal responsibility for making decisions about their life and learning trajectories, and in the climate of competition, education becomes valued for the credentials and skills that situate individuals in more advantageous positions within the economy. While this discourse postulates that all subjects are equally positioned to recognise, mobilise and consolidate productive and successful choices, it does not consider the inequitable positions of individuals in terms of privilege or disadvantage stemming from their family, cultural or socioeconomic backgrounds. (Goulthro 2009). The dominant neoliberal ideology does not only ignore these differences but rather increases them, e.g., through diminishing social and educational democracy and equity (e.g. Apple 2007; McGregor 2009), offering freedom of choice that is in reality available only for some socially privileged groups (Bunar 2008), and blaming the underprivileged by emphasising individual responsibility (Apple 2005). All these developments imply an increase in the demands the transitions within and out of education pose on the students striving to make the ‘right’ choices about their trajectories in late modern societies (cf. Furlong & Cartmel 2006). For the youth, these high demands are likely to lead to experiences of stress and worry about the future.
In this context, support provided by the parents plays a significant role. As shown by a vast body of research, parental support has effects on factors such as students’ educational achievement, social and academic self-efficacy, and psychosocial adjustment generally and in the context of educational transitions (e.g. Desforges 2003; Graziano et al. 2009; Isakson & Jarvis 1999). By applying a theoretical framework of identity capital (Côté 2005), which is a social-psychological perspective to how late modernity and individualisation process affect adolescence’s transition into adulthood, this paper examines the following questions: how intense are the worries students have about their future, and how does the perceived parental support affect these worries in different socio-demographic contexts.
Apple, M. W. 2005. Doing things the ‘right’ way: legitimating educational inequalities in conservative times. Educational Review 57 (3), 271–293. Apple, M. W. 2007. Education, markets, and an audit culture. International Journal of Education policies 1 (1), 4–19. Bansel, P. 2007. Subjects of choice and lifelong learning. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 20 (3), 283–300. Bunar, N. 2008. The Free Schools “Riddle”: Between traditional social democratic, neo-liberal and multicultural tenets. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research 52 (4), 423–438. Byrne, B. 2012. Structural Equation modeling With Mplus. Basic Concepts, Applications, and Programming. New York: Routledge. Côté, J. 2005. Identity capital, social capital and the wider benefits of learning: generating resources facilitative of social cohesion. London Review of Education 3 (3), 221–237. Desforges, C. 2003. The Impact of Parental Involvement, Parental Support and Family Education on Pupil Achievements and Adjustments: A Literature Review. Nottingham: DfES Publications. Furlong, A. & Cartmel, F. 2006. Young people and social change: individualization and risk in late modernity. 2nd edition. Buckingham: Open University Press. Gangl, M. 2003. Returns to education in context: Individual educational and transition outcomes in European labour markets. In W. Müller & M. Gangl (Eds.) Transitions from education to work in Europe. The integration of youth into EU labour markets. Oxford: University Press, 156–185. Goulthro, P. 2009. Neoliberalism, lifelong learning, and the homeplace: problematizing the boundaries of ‘public’ and ‘private’ to explore women’s learning experiences. Studies in Continuing Education 31 (2), 157–172. Graziano, F., Bonino, S. & Cattelino, E. 2009. Links between maternal and paternal support, depressive feelings and social and academic self-efficacy in adolescence. European Journal of Developmental Psychology 6 (2), 241–257. Isakson, K. & Jarvis, P. 1999. The Adjustment of Adolescents During the Transition into High School: A Short-Term Longitudinal Study. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 28 (1), 1–26. McGregor, G. 2009. Educating for (whose) success? Schooling in an age of neo-liberalism. British Journal of Sociology of Education 30 (3), 345–358. Müller, W. & Wolbers, M. 2003. Educational attainment in European Union: Recent trends in qualification patterns. In W. Müller & M. Gangl (Eds.) Transitions from education to work in Europe. The integration of youth into EU labour markets. Oxford: University Press, 23–62. Walther, A., Du Bois-Reymond, M. & Biggart, A. (Eds.) 2006. Participation in Transition. Motivation of Young Adults in Europe for Learning and Working. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
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