Arenas of comfort and conflict: peer relationship events and young people's educational attainment

Jonathan F Smith, Zlatko Skrbis

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research suggests that developments in young people s peer relationships may either compound or alleviate the adverse impacts of other major life changes during adolescence. We explored this proposition with respect to young people s educational attainment upon leaving high school, using longitudinal data from a large cohort of Australian secondary school students (n = 1612) who have taken part in the Our Lives research study between the ages of 12/13 and 19/20 years. Our analysis focused on the role of peer relationship events such bullying, friendship problems, falling in love, and breaking up with someone. Bullying and romantic involvement were associated with lower odds of receiving a competitive tertiary entrance rank at the end of high school. However, close, resilient friendships - in which status and identity conflicts may be more easily tolerated and resolved - may help to offset the role of these other events. As well as reviewing the consequences of our findings for young people s educational and occupational trajectories in the longerterm, we highlight their implications for future research and policy in this area. (c) 2015 Taylor Francis
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646 - 664
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • arenas of comfort
  • life events
  • peer relationships
  • Schooling
  • youth transitions

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