14 SES 05 A, Schooling of Ordinary and Vulnerable Youth. Transitions between Levels of Schooling and Transitions to Adulthood (Part 1)
The purpose of this paper is to examine what circumstances influence transition to adulthood among vulnerable young people. In this study about 500 adolescents who received special support in upper secondary education, were followed prospectively through school and into different domains of adult life. The analyses are based on longitudinal research funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and the Council of Research.
When transitional processes are to be studied, the life course perspective is a natural choice of approach. The life course is a theoretical orientation with an emphasis on temporal dimensions and rooted in contextual perspectives. This approach is useful when analysing how individuals adapt to historical contexts, local environments and structural arrangements, e.g., placement in special or regular classes in school.
When studying the life course in the short term the idea of transitionembedded within larger trajectories is the most appropriate. A transition is a marked, and more or less, permanent change that is influenced by social norms and expectations (cf. Elder & Johnson 2003). Transitions analysed in this paper include moving out of the parents’ home, finding work, establishing a romantic relationship, and having children.
The aim of this paper is to describe and analyse multiple transitions in various domains of life and, thus, show a picture of the life courses of vulnerable youth that is as complete as possible. In accordance with the ambitions of modern life course theory (cf. Mayer 2009), the goal is not only to study single transitions but also to analyse interrelated trajectories from adolescence to adulthood. Patterns of cumulative advantage and disadvantage may then be revealed, for example how disabilities and educational outcomes influence subsequent adaptation to adult life. However, in a rather short paper this can only briefly be indicated.
This longitudinal study draws inspiration from two complementary fields of knowledge: life span psychology and life course sociology. The first of these includes the proximal context (e.g., family and social relationships), whereas the second approach includes more distal features (e.g., structural and cultural context). The combination of proximal and distal contexts ‘supplies a set of space-time coordinates, which differently shape the timing and form of the transitions through which the life course is constructed’ (Bynner 2008: 219).
Elder, G.H. & M.K. Johnson (2003). The Life Course and Aging: Challenges, Lessons, and New Directions. In: Invitation to the Life Course. Toward New Understandings of Later Life. New York: Baywood Publishing Company Bynner, J. (2008). Developmental Science in the Melting Pot. Journal of Social Issues.Vol. 64, No. 1:219 – 225. Mayer, K.U. (2009). New Directions in Life Course Reearch. Annual Review of Sociology. 35:413 – 433. Myklebust, J.O. (2007). Divergent Paths: Competence attainment among students with special educational needs. International Journal of Inclusive Education. 11:215–231. Myklebust, J.O. & F.O. Båtevik (2005). Economic Independence for Adolescents with Special Educational Needs. European Journal of Special Needs Education. 3: 271–286.
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