22 SES 03 C, Employability and Transition to Work of Higher Education Graduates
In this paper we propose a new research agenda for the research of educational trajectories that is based on the explanatory resources of cultural sociology.
Today Russia follows the tendency, according to which life trajectories become less typical and more flexible and stages of becoming an adult (as in the Life Course perspective) are shuffled and rearranged in time. In 2009 Institute of Education at the National Research University Higher School of Economics started a longitudinal research on educational and professional trajectories, tracking 3 panels (9th grade, 11th grade, 4-5 year of university) with a 3-year interval. In 2012 a new research agenda was formed: rather than tracing a person through social roles and institutionalized achievements, we want to extract typical trajectories as meaningful structures created by individuals, through which they then are moving. Quantitative data is supported by a follow-up of long interviews with some members of the panel, which should help to implement interpretive approach more accurately.
Life trajectory is understood as a path build up by an individual within social circumstances according to his or her perception of the goals or statuses he or she refers to as necessary to achieve, and the means (principles, values) used for building the life one is choosing.
Family, supplementary and general education, be it school, college or university – all provide means as well as goals, around which individual will choose to build his or her trajectory. This is in the focus of our research.
With the explanatory resources of cultural sociology, we plan to investigate more accurately the mechanisms which stand behind the construction of individual trajectories. The hypothesis is that individual trajectories are structured according to the meanings implied and realized through them. These meaning structures are a social-cultural construct. From that, typologies of trajectories can be extracted.
A recent follow-up study, carried out with 25 participants of the university graduates panel, helped to create a first possible outline of such a typology, focused for now on choosing specialization, education, and job. We talked with participants on what their goals are, how far they plan, what their image of success is, how their life would have to turn out so that they could call it a fulfilled life, etc.
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