• Josefine Waldorff Østergaard
4. term, Learning and Innovative Change, Master (Master Programme)
When young high school students have to choose what they are going to do after high school, it takes place in a social context that contains some opposing discourses; on the one hand, it is expected from the young students to individualize themselves as part of the late modern society. On the other hand, they must live up to - and act within - a number of educational policy requirements and expectations derived from a competitive perspective.
This study, of how the young high school students construct their choices of what they want in the years after high school, are based on the social constructionist paradigm. Through this, it has been possible to examine three groups of young high school student’s choices, as a social construction influenced by social relations and discursive influences.
The social constructionist Kenneth Gergen describes how everything we expect, in reality is socially designed. An important point is that the individual's definitions and descriptions are always based on a particular cultural perspective. With social constructionism as a starting point, the thesis examines two significant discursive perspectives in young high school students' construction of the choice. This is exemplified by Anthony Gidden's late modernity theory and Ove Kaj Pedersen's theory of the competitive state. By virtue of the social constructionist starting point, the theories are considered as hegemonic discourses, which frames the young high school students' process of constructing their choice. In the discourse of the competition state, the young people's choices and pathways throughout the educational system are problematized with an argument, that they need to start education soon, they must move faster through the educational system and into the labor market, so they can contribute to the welfare society and our competitiveness. This results in a central focus on performance, comparisons and indices, which is expressed in a number of implemented educational policy actions and reforms. Another discursive perspective that influences the young high school student’s narrative construction of choices is the late modernity discourse, which focuses on the many choices, and opportunities that young high school students may need to navigate within. In addition follows a high level of doubt, risks and individual responsibility, why the young students constructs a number of security strategies that seek to downplay the various choices theyface. A central strategy is to postpone the choice, by taking a break away from the educational system.
The young high school students construct the choice with narratives and linguistic negotiations, which incorporate both discursive perspectives, while at the same time displaying awareness of the complexities and nuances of their future orientations, hence illustrating the dualistic discursive field of interest in which they are located.
Publication date30 May 2017
Number of pages80
External collaboratorAllerød Gymnasium
Line Bach line.bach@allgym.dk
Frederiksborg Gymnasium
Ditte Smith dsm@fgc4.dk
ID: 258651548