Making dream jobs come true: Transitions to new attractive professional worlds for young people

Making dream jobs come true: Transitions to new attractive professional worlds for young people

The difficulties that, in general, young people face today in their transitions to adulthood, and in their process of transition to work, in particular, have turned this social category a privileged target of public policies, as well as one of the most productive research topics in contemporary sociology. In a context of labour market flexibility and volatility and of precarious wages and work  contracts, young people are forced to deal with insecurity and versatility elements that increasingly characterise their transitions to work. However, the value of work still occupies a central position in young people's lives. Not only it continues to be a core aspect, but also their attitudes regarding this dimension of life are more demanding. In the scope of work, they wish for an ideal combination of extrinsic values (such as security and remuneration, for example) and of intrinsic values (such as personal achievement and interest in the task). An ambition which fulfilment was mainly associated to prestigious professions ratified by academic diploma, such as physician, lawyer, engineer or architect. The dream jobs used to involve the selective mediation of a higher education. In the present context, the promises of university that would inform such dreams (security, stability, employment, social status, etc) have been called into question. The diploma no longer guarantees the access and progress within a career, or even a job corresponding to the certified training . In the present context of school crisis and labour uncertainty, the academic promises compete with the promises mediated by other social contexts, such as the media and youth cultures. Young people's dream job are no longer necessarily about high-status careers within the formal education. Other type of activities and occupations have integrated the professional expectations of an increasing number of young people, promoting their incursion in new educational and labour territories, as well as of new ways of experiencing transitions to adulthood - subjects that require further research.

 

Estatuto: 
Proponent entity
Financed: 
Yes
Entidades: 
Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia
Keywords: 

Youth transitions, Learning contexts, Attitudes towards work, Cultures and identities

The difficulties that, in general, young people face today in their transitions to adulthood, and in their process of transition to work, in particular, have turned this social category a privileged target of public policies, as well as one of the most productive research topics in contemporary sociology. In a context of labour market flexibility and volatility and of precarious wages and work  contracts, young people are forced to deal with insecurity and versatility elements that increasingly characterise their transitions to work. However, the value of work still occupies a central position in young people's lives. Not only it continues to be a core aspect, but also their attitudes regarding this dimension of life are more demanding. In the scope of work, they wish for an ideal combination of extrinsic values (such as security and remuneration, for example) and of intrinsic values (such as personal achievement and interest in the task). An ambition which fulfilment was mainly associated to prestigious professions ratified by academic diploma, such as physician, lawyer, engineer or architect. The dream jobs used to involve the selective mediation of a higher education. In the present context, the promises of university that would inform such dreams (security, stability, employment, social status, etc) have been called into question. The diploma no longer guarantees the access and progress within a career, or even a job corresponding to the certified training . In the present context of school crisis and labour uncertainty, the academic promises compete with the promises mediated by other social contexts, such as the media and youth cultures. Young people's dream job are no longer necessarily about high-status careers within the formal education. Other type of activities and occupations have integrated the professional expectations of an increasing number of young people, promoting their incursion in new educational and labour territories, as well as of new ways of experiencing transitions to adulthood - subjects that require further research.

 

Objectivos: 
With the purpose of exploring a national and international new sociological research topic, this project aims to account for the aspirations, projects and pathways of transitions to work in activities that are currently very attractive for new generations, but still vaguely institutionalised regarding resources and established paths of professionalization: fashion, dance music, sports, and cooking. Regarding the empirical observation universes, the analysis will focus on recent occupations in Portugal, such as being a model or a DJ, as well as professions that have suffered intense processes of symbolic revalorisation and social reconfiguration, such as being a football player or a cook (as in chef). The core question of the research project is to identify what type of objective and subjective configurations underlie the pathways of young people's transitions to work within the scope of these new dream jobs. The objective configurations refer to the identification of itineraries, of socialization conditions and mobilized resources (social, material and symbolic) in having access to performing these activities; the subjective configurations refer to the symbolic frames (aspirations, expectations and work values) underlying the accomplishment of the dream of becoming someone in these activities and its accomplishment as a project and a trajectory.
State of the art: 
Over the last few years, transitions from school to work have acquired an increasing expression in the European and Portuguese sociological research. These studies have especially focused on the relationships between formal school (more massified and democratised), the social value of diplomas that it provides (that some estimate as in decrease), and the adequacy of academically certified qualifications in the current labour market (more segmented, constricted, and flexible). Two youth populations have been the growing target of these studies: low educated young people, namely the ones dropping out school without completing compulsory education; and the higher educated young people, whose integration in the labour market has become increasingly difficult. If many of these studies approached youth population in a transversal way, others have been focusing on transitions to work of</p><p>specific professional segments. These often cover traditional dream professions, with a high prestige heritage, certified by higher education and strongly regulated by formal institutions: being a lawyer, an architect , an engineer or an artist, professional activities in which transitions from school to work have already been extensively studied in Portugal. However, the previous virtuous relationship between the type and level of education, profession, remuneration and social status is no longer certain, a presumed reality that young people and their families are increasingly aware of. This context, related with deep transformations in the labour market, gives good reason for the decrease of the optimistic demand concerning formal education, as well as for some dissatisfaction with the more normative pathways that shape transitions from school to work. This set of conditions lead some young people to look for alternative options and pathways regarding school and work. At the same time, other extra-school training contexts have been increasingly emerging to meet the accomplishment of new dreams, aspirations, and youth expectations, sometimes at high prices, where private institutions are concerned. In fact, public, modern and formal school is not always open to all young people's professional ambitions, giving rise to post-school or parallel socialization processes, within specific social contexts (non formal or informal) created for young people or produced by themselves, within the scope of their youth cultures. This is the case of schools or academies that offer modelling, football, DJ'ing or cooking courses in Portugal. Spread across the country, but mainly concentrated in its main cities, they try to respond to the training solicitation (more than qualification) of young people involved in these activities. At the base of this solicitation is the fact that these activities have recently been subjected to a set of social reconfigurations and of symbolic (re)valorisations: - professionalization, that is, the process of progressive professional institutionalization as opposed to amateur forms of performance, through the constitution of professional associations, the organization of common events for professionals, and the claiming for legal regulation and codes of conduct; - criativization, that is, the process of displacement of a mostly technical and practical discourse informing the practices of professionals, to a discourse of innovation and authorship, with the subsequent expansion and multiplication of ways of doing differently these same practices; - idealization, that is, the process that systematically associates these activities to certain values such as success, fame, creativity, autonomy and self-expression, as well as to certain lifestyles characterized by glamour, celebrity and cosmopolitism; - mediatization, that is, the process of intense public exposure of these professional activities and some of its actors, daily mediatised in magazines, TV programs and contests. Despite being expected specific interactions and transactions in each one of the activities under study, this set of processes have redefined and promoted the status of each activity within the hierarchy of social and symbolic legitimization of occupations (fact that can be observed, for example, in the recent change of place of these occupations in the International Standard Classification of Occupations 2008, that will be obligatorily used in the 2011 Census). In Portugal, if until recently football playing or cooking were only modest m&eacute;tiers, or DJ'ing and modelling were not promising jobs, nowadays all of these occupations are perceived as successful professions, taking part of the professional horizons of an increasing number of young people - even if with different possibilities of achievement, depending on diverse social conditions background. In a context of decreasing social value of diplomas and of the working conditions they can provide, these activities are perceived as areas with symbolic status. While in other professional activities youth labour force has only access to marginal positions, within the scope of the activities that we intend to analyse the youth labour force and the young body are hyper-valued, being the youth condition itself, namely its corporal condition, a privileged capital. The main aim of the project is to know how those structural processes have been reflected on the pathways and on the subjectivities of some youth segments, namely regarding their professional dimension. Which meanings are attributed to the scope of activities under analysis by young people that intend to pursue them professionally? What role these meanings play in the construction of youth identities? How are the processes of transitions to work in each of those activities set? Which effects the choice of becoming a professional in one of these activities has regarding transition to adulthood, and in the several dimensions of young people's lives (family, school, social)?
Parceria: 
Unintegrated
João Sedas Nunes
Luís Miguel de Almeida Chaves
Maria João Taborda
Coordenador 
Start Date: 
01/03/2012
End Date: 
28/02/2015
Closed