14 SES 01 JS, Schooling in Rural/Urban Settings I
Joint Session with NW 10
Is formal education in a ‘global society’ opening up a world of opportunities, also in a geographical sense? The aim of the paper is to understand how young people in Sweden perceive their future life strategies in relation to local, national and international opportunities. Nonetheless, the study takes its starting point in the municipality Kalix in the north of Sweden with 17 300 inhabitants, a flourishing mine industry and a local culture dedicated to hunting, fishing and snow mobiles. It addresses a neglected area of research, namely: geographies of education. Few studies have tried to understand the locality of education and how different contexts may foster educational cultures. The study does not neglect the well-established impact of social reproduction on educational choices, but rather tries to anchor social spaces in every-day realities.
The development of strategies are depending on set values which are socially inherited (Bourdieu 1977; 1979), but often also attached to an imagined geographical distribution (Harvey 1973; 2005). Bringing together social and geographical imaginations of positionality may therefore add to the explanatory framework of the development of educational strategies. Researchers have shown that girls are more eager to leave the rural north after graduating secondary school, while boys are keener on staying. Together with a gender division of the labor market in Kalix, this calls for an understanding of “a geography of difference” between men and women (Massey 2005, McDowell 1992).
The study is to some extent inspired by Willis (1977) study in the 70s, where we got to learn how a manufacturing society on the downhill challenged identities of masculinities. Today, in the north of Sweden the mine industry is expanding at high speed, and new questions of belonging, identity and education has to be addressed. What role is formal education perceived to have when it comes to offering young people, ages 16-18, social and geographical mobility or stability? How are boys and girls in upper secondary school in Kalix defining themselves, against or towards, the local community? How is this affecting their perceived choice of vocational or theoretical education? The objective is to bring together geographical aspects of space and place with theories of social reproduction. It also presents methodological challenges of a joint analysis of individuals, formal education, and community as well as local, national and global labor markets. By doing this I hope to develop further understanding of the analytical question: How can a study of place and spatial aspects contribute to the understanding of young people’s perceived educational strategies? Furthermore, the study aims to explain why boys and girls are negotiating life strategies in a certain way and its implications for policy development.
Bourdieu, P. and Passeron J. C. (1979). The Inheritors. French students and their relation to culture. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago/London 1979. Originally published 1964: Les héritiers. Les étudiants et la culture, Minuit, Paris, s.7-115 Bourdieu, Pierre & Passeron, Jean-Claude (1977). Reproduction in education, society and culture. English ed. London: Sage Harvey, D. (1973). Social Justice and the City. London: Edward press Harvey, D. (2005) The Sociological and Geographical imaginations, International Journal of Politics Culture and Society, Vol 14, No 3-4, pp. 211-255 Massey, D. (2005) For Space. London: Sage McDowell, L. (1992) Doing gender feminism feminists and research methods in Human Geography. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers Vol. 17, pp. 399-416 Willis, P. (1977), Learning to Labour: How working class kids get Working Class Jobs. Farnborough: Saxon House.
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