04 SES 07 A, Transition and Dropout From and After School
The rate of pupils dropping out of school and the fact that weak school affiliation correlates with lower job opportunities is of major concern in Europe (Solag, 2002, EACEA, 2012). Participation in education is also considered pivotal to lowering the probability of youth involvement in crime (Moretti, 2005). Yet most studies in this area seem to focus on pupils that have already dropped out of school. There has been less emphasis on how schools and the professionals who work in them deal with pupils with weak school affiliation (Thyssen et. al. 2010, Rumberger 2011)
This paper presents the knowledge generated in the research project entitled “At the edge of the school - school affiliation and prevention in a youth perspective”. The project was aimed to generate knowledge about how young adolescents with weak school affiliation and declining school participation perceive school and the special efforts organized to give them support.
The study focuses on the following issues:
How do pupils in early adolescence perceive the prevention efforts organized in and around their schools, and how are these perceptions produced? Furthermore, we analyze how these perceptions affect pupils’ school strategies, and how schools and professionals can best meet this group of pupils and strengthen their school participation and affiliation.
To answer these questions, the study combines three thematic perspectives on pupils’ weak school affiliation and low participation:
- Narratives: Pupils’ narratives of their experiences with meeting professionals are analyzed. In this way, we examine how the relationship between the youth and the professional helps to position pupils (SOURCE). Our analysis endeavoured to show how the professional relationship with young people impacts their perception of themselves as learners and participants in their own lives. Using this narrative approach, the study encompasses the relational and social processes in which pupils take part at school and in other social contexts. We also discuss new ways in which both professionals and young people can act to support this participation (Ricoeur 1994; Kemp 2005; Holmgren & Nevers 2012; Kofoed & Søndergaard 2013; Gilliam 2008).
- Youth life: The research also analyzes how these young people understand their own lives and actions within the various social contexts in which they live, and how the interaction between these contexts influences their school participation. The study thus asks how young people's experiences and stories from their lives outside of school affect their perception of and needs at school. In this second theme, we use a sociological approach to identify some characteristics of youth life and the relations and arenas in which it unfolds. (Bauman and May, 2003, Illeris 2009, Bourdieu 1977 Højholdt 2009).
- Special efforts: From this thematic perspective we analyze how young people perceive the specially organized efforts of which they are part. We analyze how youth distance themselves to a certain extent from these initiatives. In the microsociological approach used for this theme, relations between pupils and professionals in preventive practices are largely influenced by the participants’ impression management. (Goffmann 1974, Jacobsen 2010)
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