Constructing Identities: Young People’s Perspectives on Life and Career

By Debra Tyler and Helen Stokes.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article argues that identity construction is a dynamic process not able to be conceptually limited to a moment or experience in time. It is a process that occurs in numerous settings with multiple influences. In their everyday practices, young people are positioned within multiple discourses (for example as student, consumer and as flexible worker) (Wyn & Woodman, 2006), each of which offers possible ‘subject positions’. From this, subjectivities are constructed that are different, diverse and possibly contradictory (Stokes and Wyn, Forthcoming). The importance of finding a balance between goals of personal development and wellbeing and the continuing demands of further education and employment challenge the individual to develop identities and subjectivities that span all aspects of their lives, not just from the discourses that are most dominant or seen as most legitimate in their lives. This paper draws on two Australian studies. The first study (The Young Visions Project) draws on data gathered nationally from over 400 young people interviewed while still at school about the development of their career identity. The research has shown that young people draw on a range of perspectives that contribute to them making an active investment in their production of identities and subjectivities. The second study utilises both qualitative and quantitative data from a 14-year longitudinal study designed to map young people’s transitions from school to further education and employment. An analysis of this research suggests young people have redefined the concept of “career” to enable them to construct their identity across multiple sites: employment, study, and personal well being.

Keywords: Identity, Agency, Transitions

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.367-374. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 552.397KB).

Debra Tyler

Lecturers, Youth Research Centre, Faculty of Education, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Helen Stokes

Lecturer, Youth Research Centre, Faculty of Education, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


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