Higher Education

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 191–208 | Cite as

Higher education as human risk capital

  • Osmo Kivinen
  • Sakari Ahola

Abstract

Both the rhetoric of human capital and the information society are based on the idea of continuous progress. The politics of European governments rest on a simplified presumption that to produce more and higher educational credentials is the same as to produce more human capital. The information society rhetoric is saying that the expanding human capital serves both societies, firms and individuals as a direct route to economic growth, since people are living and working in the conditions of more knowledge-intensive production in the so-called information society. In this article we will concentrate on analysing the gap between the reborn human capital ideology, represented in current labour market rhetoric, and the everyday realities of human risk capital faced by graduates. We discuss the changing labour markets, presenting an extended model describing the various social mechanisms which affect graduate employment. Information society implies also the 'information State', since especially in the Nordic countries, the State still has a firm grip on higher education and the labour market, in spite of the popular market rhetoric. We also ask to what extent, instead of traditional organizational careers and permanent jobs, the future of higher education graduates can be described in terms of boundaryless careers or entrepreneurial work.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Osmo Kivinen
    • 1
  • Sakari Ahola
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Unit for the Sociology of EducationUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland

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