Life Course Opportunities and Uncertainties in Transforming Society Managing the Transition into the Labor Market in Late-Developing Cambodia

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 4:30 PM
Room: Booth 52
Oral Presentation
Chivoin PEOU , University of Melbourne, Australia
The generalized ‘late’ modern change, including post-industrial capitalism and increased individualization, has by now become a powerful tool for youth and life course sociology to describe emerging patterns, risks and uncertainties of modern lives. Although research has increasingly been focused on the risk and uncertainty experienced as part of personal biographies via their socially differentiated positions, a Eurocentric standpoint remains influential as recent life course changes and risks are seen as diverging from the modern industrial ‘normal’ life course. This paper attempts at a complex exploration of the embeddedness of opportunities and risks in the individual’s social context and biographical experiences. First, I will position the contemporary transformation of Cambodian society in the context of modernization theory (Beck 1992; Giddens 1990) and debate on the varieties of modernity (Chang 2010; Eisenstadt 2000; Schmidt 2010) to make a case for a more specific examination of change toward a modern society. I will then reconstruct the processes of Cambodian transformation and how they feed into the opportunities and risks for new life courses. A theoretically informed but empirically grounded typology of biographical management, based on a study of the life experiences and expectations of different social groups of Cambodian young people (n=51), will be used to illustrate how the opportunities and uncertainties in the new life course are differently managed based on socio-cultural and individual resources during the transition into the labor market and toward adulthood. This shows that in the context of compressed modern transformation, not only does the life course encounter both new risks and opportunities, but it also requires a mix of traditional and modern frameworks and resources to deal with inherent uncertainty.