Growing Up in a Classless Society? School to Work Transitions

Growing Up in a Classless Society? School to Work Transitions

Growing Up in a Classless Society? School to Work Transitions

Growing Up in a Classless Society? School to Work Transitions


"The idea of a 'classless society' is very much in the forefront of current political debate. For young people who are reaching adulthood and making the difficult transition from school to work, how does this new social order present itself? Dr. Furlong examines this question using material drawn from a nationally representative sample of over 4,000 young people who were contacted over a two and a half year period. He describes their experiences in the light of education's newly acquired emphasis on vocationalism, the growing problem of youth unemployment and the replacement of jobs for school leavers by 'training' schemes. From a desire to investigate whether or not there exists a new sense of equality of opportunity, the conclusion reached is that, despite radical social and educational changes, the experience of young people moving between school and work has been little affected: real progress towards a truly classless society is hard to identify." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


The generation of young people who left school over the last decade have made their transition to adulthood under the shadow of unemployment and under a political regime which has removed many of the economic safety nets which existed for those growing up in more prosperous periods. Under the threat of withdrawal of benefits, many young people have been forced to contend with various work experience and training schemes set up by the Government, while others have temporarily avoided the turmoil of the declining youth labour market by staying on at school or by entering further education.

As young people become adults they begin to loosen the chains of material dependence which tie them to their families of origin and start to be held responsible for their own material circumstances. The process of becoming an adult is often quite protracted and is not something which happens automatically upon reaching the age of majority. Throughout this century, young people from middle-class families have often been economically dependent on their families until their early twenties, when they finished their university or college courses. On the other hand, many of those from working-class families entered the labour market at the end of compulsory schooling and have been financially independent at a younger age.

This pattern has changed somewhat over the last decade as youth unemployment, training schemes, and increasing levels of participation in post-compulsory education and training have delayed the achievement of economic independence for a whole generation of young people. Roberts (1985) suggests that for those who experience higher education, economic independence has for a long time been the final stage in the transition to adulthood, but that in the 1980s this pattern became a mass phenomenon.

Historically the relationship between age and independence . . .

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