14 SES 10 A, School Related Transitions Among Young People in Urban and Rural Settings (Part 1)
Paper Session to be continued in 14 SES 11 A
School me, school me not, street me, street me not…
When picking leaves of a marguerite, whilst doing the “she loves me, she loves me not” game, you tend to let coincidence or perhaps destiny have a final say. But what are the determinants, when you face the thrill of having to choose your future? Youth is a period of transition and important decisions related to education and future engagement. For some, this challenge is fairly straightforward. It’s in the cards, so to speak, what path one shall choose. For others, contradictory cultural agendas in one’s everyday life arenas compete, resulting in difficult decision making, when having to mentally sort out – and not least – practically realize future aspirations.
During the autumn months of 2014, we conducted an ethnographic fieldwork (Atkinson & Hammersley 2007; Hastrup 2010; Spradley 1980) among urban youth in a mid-sized Danish provincial town. Different groupings of youth attended the skater and parkour facilities at the central squares, all of them with each their strategies. Obviously, the skaters attend the site to skate. But also other, more vulnerable groupings, use the site to socialize, meet peers and perhaps escape an unreliable and risky family arena. One particular group, the self-named Thugz, primarily formed around a number of young boys with non-Danish ethnic heritage, used the site on a daily basis. Unformal talks during the observation studies and follow-up interviews (Spradley 1979; Kvale 1997) with two central figures in the group revealed an interesting, and quite surprising, tension between the informants’ approaches to the street culture and the school milieu. With a criminal gang-like behavior (Hoeben & Weerman 2013; Hviid 2007; Rasmussen 2012) involving petty crime and violence, one would think the group members would be indifferent towards their schooling and future careers. This was not the case. The informants proved to be very aware of the importance of schooling, and as a result of this awareness they were fixed in a limbo between managing the street codes of behavior whilst still holding on to the imperatives of school.
This summer of 2016 we revisit the site to reunite with the key informants that inspired and nurtured our prior work on unstructured socialization (Gravesen & Frostholm 2015b) and conflicting youth cultures (Gravesen & Frostholm 2015a) in urban spaces. With the nearly two years that passed since our first fieldwork, we intend to follow up on the intriguing question: which paths have the key informants chosen? Street or school? Or are they still balancing between the two? And which determinants are structuring their current positioning strategies (Bourdieu 2004; Bourdieu 2007)?
In the presentation we shed light on the strong and important relationship between the informants’ street communities, families and school milieus. How do the vulnerable urban youth cope with the obvious challenges related to the dissimilar imperatives of the street, the family and the school?
Atkinson, P. & Hammersley, M. (2007) Ethnography - Principles in Practice. Taylor & Francis Ltd. Bourdieu, P. (2004) Af praktiske grunde. 4. oplag. Hans Reitzels Forlag Bourdieu, P. (2007) Den praktiske sans. Hans Reitzels Forlag Gravesen, D.T. & Olesen, P.F. (2015a) ”Conflicting cultures – a street-ethnographic take on urban youth, unstructured socialization and territoriality”. In: Diskurs Kindheits- und Jugendforschung/Discourse. Journal of Childhood and Adolescence Research” Heft 3-2015 Gravesen, D.T. & Frostholm, P.F. (2015b) “Ustruktureret socialisering blandt børn og unge – interdisciplinært betragtet”. In: Tidsskriftet Barn nr. 3-4, 2015, s. 93-109 Hastrup, K. (2010): ”Feltarbejde”. In: Brinkmann & Tanggaard (red.): Kvalitative metoder. Hans Reitzels Forlag Hviid, K. (2007) “No life” – om gadelivsstil, territorialitet og maskulinitet blandt unge mænd i et forstadskvarter. SPIRIT PhD Series. Aalborg University Kvale, S. (1997) Interview. 7. oplag. Hans Reitzels Forlag Spradley, J. P. (1979) The Ethnographic Interview. Wadsworth. Thomson learning Spradley, J. P. (1980) Participant Observation. Wadsworth. Thomson learning Rasmussen, L. (2012) ”Identitet og fællesskab i kriminelle gruppedannelser”. I: Jacobsen, M.H. (red.) (2012) Skyggelandet. Ungdomskultur, kriminalitetskultur og bandekultur i dansk belysning. Syddansk Universitetsforlag.
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