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Competing voices: a Figured Worlds approach to theorising graduate perspectives on career success

Christie, Fiona (2019) Competing voices: a Figured Worlds approach to theorising graduate perspectives on career success. International Studies in Sociology of Education. ISSN 0962-0214

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Abstract

Becoming a university graduate has long been considered the route to individual occupational and social mobility, while educating more citizens has been assumed to add to a nation’s human capital and competitiveness. University education has come to be associated with individual and societal aspiration. However, changes in the labour market associated with globalisation, technology, and fears of graduate underemployment have served to question this. This paper seeks to uncover the meaning that individuals construct about their early careers as they navigate such uncertain contexts. It reports on a study based on the graduate population of one university in England. Analysis tests the value of Figured Worlds theory. Using the construct of ‘self-authoring’, this paper identifies competing voices around employability and career success. Findings reveal how graduates orchestrate varied voices, in order to find ways to figure their experience and what it means to be a successful graduate.

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