Constructing Coherence? Young Adults' Pursuit of Meaning through Multiple Transitions between Education, Employment and Work

R Devadason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In The Corrosion of Character Richard Sennett contends that the storied nature of human experience is stunted by ‘conditions of the new economy’. He argues that individuals are unable to develop ‘coherent life narratives’ in the absence of job security. Thus, continuous employment somehow provides coherence: at least, enduring relationships with a single employer - which were possible under the auspices of organised capitalism - facilitate continuity in adult life more broadly. This paper draws on Linde’s typology of ‘coherence strategies’ and in-depth interviews with young adult workers to demonstrate that young Europeans construct coherence by piecing together episodes of employment, unemployment and education in their biographies. Thus, the unfolding of the narrative is perhaps less likely to be enhanced by a sustained relationship with a single employer than discontinuous episodes of employment as part of the reflexive ‘project of the self ’. Nonetheless, the degree to which young adults reflexively engage in life as a project is structured by their position within social hierarchies. This paper puts forward contrasting reflexive strategies, which are discursively appropriated by young adults depending*in part*on their labour market experience, in order to construct coherence.
Translated title of the contributionConstructing Coherence? Young Adults' Pursuit of Meaning through Multiple Transitions between Education, Employment and Work
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203 - 221
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Volume10
Publication statusPublished - May 2007

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Routledge

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