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Taking the next step: class, resources and educational choice across the generations

Snee, H and Devine, F (2014) Taking the next step: class, resources and educational choice across the generations. Journal of Youth Studies, 17. ISSN 1367-6261

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Abstract

Most young people in the UK now stay on in education or training when they finish school. Numbers will continue to increase following the implementation of raising the participation age. Despite an upward trend in further education participation, young people's pathways continue to be shaped by class and gender. This paper explores the choices and decisions made by young people in their final year of compulsory schooling and describes how these class and gender inequalities are reproduced. We also spoke to parents about their own trajectories and their involvement in guiding their children's next steps. Our concern is with young people in ‘the middle’: not most at risk of social exclusion, but certainly not the most privileged. The decisions at this key transitional point are socially embedded. Processes of class reproduction and class mobility are dependent upon both structural context and access to advantageous resources. The opportunity structures for our participants were very different for the two generations. We note the wider role that social resources play at this moment, and the classed differences between the children of parents who had experienced some upward mobility and those who had remained in working-class positions.

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