Subjectivities of the Future: The Role of Habitus, Experience, and Knowledge in Positioning School Students in the Present and Their Imagined Futures

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Edwards, Anthony Scott (2018) Subjectivities of the Future: The Role of Habitus, Experience, and Knowledge in Positioning School Students in the Present and Their Imagined Futures. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Australian education policy in the 21st century has given rise to the provision of programs that seek to enhance participation and learning outcomes for disadvantaged or underrepresented groups in education. This study aimed to determine what university–school “bridging activities” offer to the agency of young people with regard to their developing imagined futures. This thesis draws on the work of Bourdieu,G.H.Mead, and Habermas to position its critical analysis of the subjectivity of young people as they construct their future possibilities. Qualitative data were gathered from active engagement with young people in years nine and ten through classroom projects and visits to universities. The analysis of data has drawn on the process of bracketing as a way to focus on the experience and then clustering the data in order to facilitate interpretation. Findings from this research show how young people contribute to the construction of their imagined futures and how aspirations can be enhanced through reflexively informed agency. The frame of reference young people use to position their learning and career goals is both enhanced and restricted by their past and current life experiences and their capacities to explore the possibilities, expectations and opportunities which contribute to one’s sense of self and agency. Those who constitute schools and universities would welcome the accounts given in this study as they mark the subjectivities that inform and influence a young person’s sense of possibility. Additionally, this study has examined the contexts and opportunities for universities and school partnerships to impact student habitus and enhance personal agency around aspirations. The data constituted by this study indicate that it is only when the school and the university collaborate upon their respective understandings of personal and institutional knowledge that young people can engage with navigating the emerging forks in life trajectories.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Keywords higher education; Australia; bridging activities; young people; Bourdieu; Mead; Habermas; future; aspirations; agency; secondary students
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