14 SES 05 A, Schooling of Ordinary and Vulnerable Youth. Transitions between Levels of Schooling and Transitions to Adulthood (Part 1)
This paper reports the findings from a small-scale qualitative study of a group of women, now in their mid-30s, who were educated in a residential therapeutic community in England in the late 1980s. The young women, aged between 8 and 18, had been identified as having emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD). One of the investigators was a residential care worker in the same school and has maintained contact with some of the young women. The study will take place between February and July 2011, and others will recruited through social network sites such as Facebook.
The research questions will address issues address such as educational and employment history; stigmatisation; social inclusion; social networks and personal relationships; and parenting. However, unlike in some previous studies conducted in different parts of the UK, Finland and New Zealand (Jahnukainen, 2001; 2010; Kroll et al, 2002; Polat and Farrell, 2002; Smith et al, 2004; Hornby and Witte, 2008; Pirrie et al, 2010), the researchers will pay greater attention to current dimensions of the young women’s lives in order to contextualise their retrospective accounts. The focus hitherto has been on short to medium-term ‘outcomes’ for young men rather than young women. The authors have reservations about the widespread use of the term ‘outcome’ in the context of young people’s lives, as ‘the present is never just the present… the “now” is as difficult to isolate in itself as the trajectory of a bird in flight’ (Hoffman, 2009: 69). Moreover, previous work in the area of long-term ‘outcomes’ has tended to focus on individual trajectories and has paid relatively little attention to individuals’ current circumstances, including locus in social networks – actual and virtual. It is a reasonable hypothesis that these have some impact upon on how young people perceive their past. By the same token, past experiences script their understanding of the present and alter perspectives on the future. Previous studies have generally not explored dimensions such as the presentation of self in every-day life (Goffman, 1959) and the processes of social identity formation (Bourdieu, 1984). We shall explore the thesis that just like the Melanesians studied by the eminient anthropologist Marilyn Strathern, young people with a history of EBD ‘are as dividually as they are individually conceived’ (1988; 13). They are ‘partible persons’ in that ‘they are made up of parts that they have been provided by others … with whom they engage in social relations’ (Dalsgaard, 2008).
The purpose of the research is thus to contribute to the relatively scant knowledge base on long-term outcomes for young women with experience of residential specialist provision for those described as having EBD. The study also presents opportunities to explore the potential of using social network sites not only to recruit prospective participants but also as a source of data. The authors are mindful of the ethical implications of such an approach and are pursuing research in this area as a parallel line of enquiry.
Bourdieu, P. (1984) Distinction. London: Routledge. Dalsgaard, S. (2008) Facework on Facebook. The presentation of self in virtual life and its role in the US elections, Anthropology Today, 24, no. 6: 8-12. Goffman, E (1959) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Garden City. Griffiths, M. and MacLeod, G.(2008) Personal Narratives and Policy: Never the Twain? Journal of Philosophy of Education, 42, no. S: 121-143. Hoffman, E. (2009) Time. London: Profile Books. Hornby, G. and C. Witte (2008) Looking back on school — the views of adult graduates of a residential special school for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. British Journal of Special Education 35, no. 2: 102-107. Jahnukainen, M. (2001) Experiencing special education: former students of classes for the emotionally and behaviorally disordered talk about their schooling. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties 6, no. 3: 150–166. Jahnukainen, M. (2010) Call for papers Special Issue: Longitudinal view on emotional and behavioural difficulties. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties 15, no 2: 179-180. Pirrie, A. G. Macleod, M.A. Cullen, and G. McCluskey (2010) What happens to pupils permanently excluded from special schools and pupil referral units in England? British Educational Research Journal (iFirst) DOI:10.1080/01411926.2010.481724. Polat, F. and P. Farrell (2002) What was it like for you? Former pupils’ reflections on their placement at a residential school for pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties 7, no. 2: 97- 108. Smith, M., F. Meltonay, and M. Chakrabarti (2004) What works for us — boys’ views of their experiences in a former List D school. British Journal of Special Education 31, no. 2: 89-93. Strathern, M. (1988) The Gender of the Gift. Berkley: University of California Press.
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