‘I Tend Not to Take Things Too Seriously': Australian Men's' Conceptions of Their Futures

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal II (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Distributed Paper
Garth STAHL, University of South Australia, Australia
Sue NICHOLS, University of South Australia, Australia
The Life After School Research Project documents the experiences, subjectivities and identities of sixteen Australian young men in their first year of non-compulsory schooling.  Through focusing on young men’s masculine identities in a time of transition and liminality – the post-school year – we explore how our participants negotiate their current identity work with both social and learner identities, and conceptualize their futures.  This paper draw son data from early interviews where the boys discussed what was important to them in terms of their future, their conceptions of success, how they negotiated pressures and potential challenges/barriers the foresaw in the post-school year.  We are interested in the subjectivities these young men present as well as the various identity negotiations as they come to understand their future trajectories. We argue that the university space, which contributes to the production of identities that are both continuous and simultaneously discontinuous, is a site where these young men engage in identity performances.  While a range of subjectivities are presented we identify some commonalities in masculine identity formation, specifically how many of the participants present a subjectivity of ‘easy-going’.  Investing in this ‘relaxed’ social identity allows for negotiating risks around potential academic failure and is in line with a ‘wait and see’ approach to their futures.  On the other hand the conditions of higher education – with intensified individual competition – creates new imperatives for strategizing to desired futures.  We explore the dynamic tensions between these two orientations.