University of Tasmania
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Young People's Subjective Understandings of Early School Leaving in Rural Areas

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posted on 2023-05-26, 08:36 authored by Schmidt, MS
This study explores young rural people's subjective understandings of their future educational choices in order to shed light on the relatively low educational retention rates of young Australians living in rural areas. Qualitative, semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted and six students who had decided to continue their education were compared to seven students who had chosen to leave the education system completely or who were undecided about whether or not to continue their education. Using the theoretical framework of Bourdieu (1990), especially his concepts of social and cultural capital and the habitus, the data was analysed thematically. Key findings include that early school leaving was not so much linked to concerns about the challenges of negotiating the physical distance of attending College some distance away but to fears of being a stranger in a foreign land. The early school leavers perceived the decision to continue their education as risky because their social networks and knowledges were tied to the local area. For the continuing students this risk was minimised because previous contacts and understandings had enabled them to internalise the cultural knowledges and practices of the city. Whilst all the young people in this study had the same aspirations, the nature of their social and cultural capital shaped the way these aspirations were fulfilled.


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