Marginal youth transitions in education

Mette Pless, Noemi Katznelson

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Abstract

Young people’s involvement in education is receiving enormous political attention in Denmark. The political
aim is to ensure ‘education for all’. The background is the fact, that despite an ongoing political focus on the importance
of ‘youth education’ over the past 30 years, a relatively stable figure of almost 20% of a youth-generation, still does not
complete a youth education. Furthermore, research shows clear patterns in regards to, who is at risk in the educational
system; Young people from a social background with little or no tradition for education are statistically less likely to attain
success in the educational system compared to young people who come from backgrounds with a strong educational
tradition.
Drawing on two longitudinal research projects (Pless&Katznelson, 2007; Pless, 2009) based on both quantitative and
qualitative data, we will focus on the factors that seemingly shape and influence young Danish people’s educational
choices and pathways from primary school and onwards – focusing especially on ‘youth at risk’ in the educational system.
The studies aim at understanding the narratives of young people at risk in regard to education and more broadly their
dreams and visions of the future (as grown ups). In the paper we will illustrate some of the dilemmas and challenges that
especially ‘youth a rick’ face as part of their life-and educational pathways from primary school and onwards. A main
focus will be on the dialectic relationship between subjective narratives on education – and the dominant political
discourses. How can political discourses on education be traced, in young people’s narratives, and to what extent are
these discourses reproduced, or challenged in this process? Furthermore the paper will address a pivotal theme in youth
research; that youth transitions and young people’s perceptions of education and work is changing profoundly. The view
is that the notion of linear, focused ’normal’ biographies increasingly is being outpaced by unpredictable, individualised
and fragmented yoyo-transitions and ‘choice’ biographies (eg. De Bois-Reymond, Wyn&Dwyer, Beck). Drawing on our
researchstudies we will discuss to what extent the young people’s narratives can be said to support a movement towards choice biographies and yoyo transitions, or if alternative understandings are needed?
Translated title of the contributionUdsatte unges overgange i uddannelsessystemet
Original languageEnglish
Publication dateSep 2011
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes

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