Reconciling the System World with the Life Worlds of Young Adults: Where Next for Youth Transition Policies?

  • Karen Evans


This chapter uses the evolving concept of bounded agency to assist a rethinking of social structures in relation to human aspiration and capacities for change. Empirical encounters with groups of 18- to 25-year-olds in Britain and internationally have formed the basis for extended dialogues between ideas and evidence in the search for new ways of conceptualising youth transitions. These explorations have taken place in contrasting societal contexts over several decades. A life-course framework is increasingly being used to explain youth transitions. The life-course approach understands the life-course as an interrelationship between individuals and society. It evolves “as a time–dependent, dynamic linkage between social structure, institutions and individual action from birth to death” (Heinz, Huinink, Swader, Weymann, General introduction. In Heinz WR, Huinink J, Weymann A (eds) The life course reader: individuals and societies across time. Campus Verlag GmbH, Frankfurt, p 15, 2009). From this standpoint, the chapter develops an analysis of the scope young adults have for fulfilling their aspirations, and how they strive for these aspirations through their work and learning. Asking how system worlds can be better reconciled with the life worlds of young people provides a starting point for debate on how bounds on human strivings and aspirations can be loosened to release creative potential and realise broader and fairer forms of meritocracy.


Labour Market Young People Human Agency Transition Behaviour Labour Market Condition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



From 2008, further research on youth transitions has been supported through an award that established the UK Economic and Social Research Council’s LLAKES Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies. Award RES-594-28-0001 LLAKES (Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies) has supported the writing of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Lifelong and Comparative Education, Institute of EducationUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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