• Joachim Hedegaard Ingvardsen
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
This paper investigates the phenomena of graduation from Aalborg University
(AAU) from a critical vantage point. Through a combination of perspectives addressing
both the individual experiencing graduation, as well as the sociocultural context
in which he or she resides, the investigation sheds light on graduation without reducing
it to either side of the structure-agent dichotomy. To address the social and cultural
context, the notions of the competition state, recent reformations of the educational
system, performance society as well as social acceleration are combined. In
order to address the individual’s capabilities for agency, positioning theory is combined
with the theory of life-course, transitions and ruptures. This somewhat disparate
theoretical framework is fused through the meta-theoretical vantage point of
Michel Foucault and Nikolas Rose, with key notions of power and discourse, as well
as the notion of governmentality. In order to allow the illumination of the phenomena,
the two distinct analytical approaches of critical discourse analysis (CDA), as
Norman Fairclough lays it out, is combined with the thematic networks analysis
(TNA) as laid out by Jennifer Attride-Stirling. An envelope of material mailed to all
soon-to-be graduates by The Career Centre at AAU serves as the empirical data for
the CDA; whereas three conducted, semi-structured interviews serve as data for the
TNA. Overall, the investigation shows that graduation is a highly complex and multifaceted
endeavor. It appears to be a forthcoming rupture for the individual, and the
transition is influenced by both personal historicity as well as socio-structural forces,
and this also also begs the question of identity. Here, the material from the Career
Centre, with its discourses of individualization, competition, positivity and neoliberalism,
comes to serve as a guide at a time where guidance is often needed. Even if
discarded or laughed at, the material is nevertheless shown to have an impact, and it
draws upon an order of discourse found in broad society about what it means to enter
the labour market. It is discussed that rather than empowering the graduate and aiding
them through graduation, the material draws upon the logic of never-ending
growth and personal development, which instead suppresses and singles out graduates,
and this in turn has a series of negative consequences for both the graduates and
society as a whole. Finally, it is argued that changing the system is a collective matter,
which requires rebuilding the communities and unions that neoliberalism, here
seen manifested in the material from The Career Centre, has come to dissolve.
Publication date31 May 2017
Number of pages80
ID: 258647125