Whose choice? Young people, career choices and reflexivity re-examined

Jacqueline Laughland-Booy, Margery Mayall, Zlatko Skrbis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Young people making future career choices are doing so in an environment that often highlights the benefits supposedly wrought by individualisation and reflexive choice. It is argued that those who demonstrate reflexivity in their decision-making would have an advantage in the negotiation of future risks. The authors of this article agree with theorists who note that career choices are still strongly influenced by a person s location in the class structure. However, unlike some writers who suggest youth from more privileged socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to evaluate risk and demonstrate reflexivity, the authors suggest the opposite. Interviews were conducted with young people aged 16-17 who are participating in an ongoing project designed to follow a cohort of young Australians from adolescence into later life. Our findings suggest that while a more privileged location may afford young people security from many potential risks and problems, this may in fact encourage a non-reflexive perspective and they may choose careers based on social norms rather than ability. Instead, we argue that it is young people from less privileged backgrounds who tend to demonstrate reflexivity in their career planning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586 - 603
Number of pages18
JournalCurrent Sociology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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