14 SES 07 B, Aspirations, Careers and Parent-School relationshisp
Students from rural areas seem to do worse on scores for student attainment than their urban counterpart, and differences in attainment levels between rural and urban education in Norway are well documented but underresearched (Bæck, 2016, Kvalsund, 2009, Solstad and Andræ Thelin, 2006). This paper discusses how students from both rural and urban municipalities in Northern Norway are making their educational trajectory within the Norwegian educational system.
Significance and aims of the research
This paper aims to discuss the concept of reflexivity and its potential as a good intake to understand decision-making processes among youth, with a focus on how young people make decisions about schooling and especially the transition from lower- to upper secondary school. We will argue that critical realism and especially Margaret Archer’s work on reflexivity can give good insights to understand decision-making processes among youth, as it encompasses both structure, culture and agency and their interaction into the individual decision-making process over time (Archer, 1983, Archer, 2007). Knowledge about how young students are making their educational choices will not only be of scholarly interest, but also for policy makers or teachers and career advisors interacting with young students.
The paper gives a current snapshot of reflexivity among especially students, and we have found that the school systems favors certain dominant modes of reflexivity over others, which again might affect future social mobility. We have also found that opportunity structures, e.g. access to education and future work is laying barriers for possible individual educational trajectories regardless of dominant mode of reflexivity, especially for rural youth. Place and geography matters; rural youth are doing worse than their urban counterpart in educational outcome and differences between opportunity structures in different places raises the question of spatial equity (Bæck, 2012, Bæck, 2016, Roberts and Green, 2013).
The methods of data collection for this article is semi- structured qualitative interviews with students in two municipalities in Northern Norway, one rural and one urban. This article is a part of the research project RUR-ED, which employs a sociological case study design in four municipalities and have a mixed method approach, which also includes quantitative analysis of register data, carrying out surveys and doing document and discourse analysis. The data was collected in the latter half of 2017 and through 2018. The data material consists of 18 informants interviewed at their last year at lower secondary school, with a follow-up interview in their first year at upper secondary school. Further, before doing the interviews, the students completed a questionnaire on their mode of reflexivity, ICONI, developed by Margaret Archer (Archer, 2007). A score of 4 and above in any of the four categories of questions assign a subject to the communicative-, autonomous-, meta- or fractured category, as their dominant mode of reflexivity. These scores are indicative, and the ICONI are used as a supplement to the qualitative interviews (Archer, 2007:330).
Our conclusion is that the Norwegian educational system is favouring certain modes of reflexivity, and especially the ones tied to a high degree of autonomy and reflexive thinking. Based on our findings, there are a need to take into account structures when addressing youth transitions. Even though young people are able to be reflexive and make their concerns in late modernity, structural issues like class and gender or concepts like opportunity structures are still useful concepts when trying to understand young people’s lives (Furlong and Cartmel, 2007). Place is also important; people from rural districts have to move in order to obtain education and work, and the educational system seem to favour autonomy (those who can and will move). Based on the findings, it is adjacent to ask whether the current educational system lead to a scenario where education and work outside dwindling primary industries is harder to obtain if you are not autonomous and/or from an urban place. Related is the question about whether society is demanding too much of 15-16 year olds when asking them to be autonomous, form a life project and move significant distances in order to obtain education and work. Both are relevant for further research, and it would be very interesting to follow the informants in this paper further to see how their educational- and future work trajectory ends up.
ARCHER, M. S. 1983. Process without System: Basil Bernstein and Pierre Bourdieu. European Journal of Sociology, 24, 196-221. ARCHER, M. S. 2007. Making our way through the world : human reflexivity and social mobility, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. BÆCK, U. D. K. 2012. Refleksjoner om Nord-Norske utdanningsvalg. In: JENTOFT, S., NERGÅRD, J.-I. & RØVIK, K. A. (eds.) Hvor går Nord-Norge? Et institusjonelt perspektiv på folk og landsdel. Stamsund: Orkana. BÆCK, U. D. K. 2016. Rural location and academic successremarks on research, contextualisation and methodology. Scandinavian journal of educational research, 60, 435-448. FURLONG, A. & CARTMEL, F. 2007. Young people and social change : new perspectives. 2nd ed. ed. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill/Open University Press. KVALSUND, R. 2009. Centralized decentralization or decentralized centralization? A review of newer Norwegian research on schools and their communities. International Journal of Educational Research, 48, 89-99. ROBERTS, P. & GREEN, B. 2013. Researching Rural Places: On Social Justice and Rural Education. Qualitative Inquiry, 19, 10. SOLSTAD, K. J. & ANDRÆ THELIN, A. 2006. Skolen og distrikta : samspel eller konflikt?, Bergen, Fagbokforl.
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