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The Struggle for Realistic Career Perspectives: Cooling-out versus Recognition of Aspirations in School-to-Work-Transitions

TitleThe Struggle for Realistic Career Perspectives: Cooling-out versus Recognition of Aspirations in School-to-Work-Transitions
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsWalther A
Secondary TitleItalian Journal of Sociology of Education
Date Published06/2015
PublisherPadova University Press
Place PublishedPadova, IT
ISSN Number2035-4983
KeywordsGermany, recognition, school-to-work-transitions, vocational orientation

Abstract: This article deals with the societal production of young people’s careers perspectives in the German transition system. The concept of realistic career perspectives – especially of so-called disadvantaged young people – reflects a blend of rationalities resulting from struggles between economy, welfare state, pedagogical actors, and young people. The question is if and how pedagogical practice of vocational orientation necessarily reproduces mechanisms of ‘cooling-out’ young people’s professional aspirations in accordance with labour market possibilities. The article is based on the analysis of qualitative data from a major national programme aimed at accompanying disadvantaged young people from lower secondary school into the dual system of apprenticeship training. It starts with contextualising school-to-work transitions in Germany with regard to comparative findings on transitions in Europe. The German transition system is presented as a societal arena of conflict and discourse framing pedagogical action in vocational orientation. Relying on Honneth’s concept of recognition, the biographies of two young people are reconstructed with regard to the pedagogical production of career perspectives. Constellations of recognition related to the production of career perspectives are elaborated. The conclusions focus on the possibilities of pedagogical practice to develop an own rationality between economy, welfare state and young people’s orientations.