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Confidence amid Uncertainty: Ambitions and Plans in a Sample of Young Adults

Confidence amid Uncertainty: Ambitions and Plans in a Sample of Young Adults The limited and sometimes contradictory published literature, mostly relating toyounger age groups and non-British societies, suggests that planning and alonger time perspective are inhibited by economic insecurity, by tightstructuring of the life course, and a track record of failing to achieveambitions. This paper uses survey data, backed by qualitative interviews, toinvestigate planning and forethought in a sample of young adults in the Scottishtown of Kirkcaldy in the late 1990s. Responses are compared with those of olderage groups and of people of the same age twelve years earlier. Economicinsecurity and failure to achieve ambitions had been seen by our olderrespondents as particularly characteristic of the lives of young adults.However, in spite of considerable sense of insecurity, the young adults westudied do in general feel in control of their lives, and do have wellarticulated ambitions and plans to achieve them with respect especially to workand housing. Indeed, conditions of modern life almost force many to seek to planto some degree in these areas. Forethought and an element of planning, albeitoften quite provisional in its nature, seems actually to provide some sense ofsecurity in an uncertain world. Respondents also show considerable commitment tofuture childbearing and partnership, though past experience of entry to both hasoften been fairly haphazard and there is evidence of cultural resistance tooverly rational planning in such areas. Failing to achieve ambitions in the pastdoes not affect ambitions but does limit willingness to plan for the future,especially for the long-run. Poverty and job insecurity, and also the presenceof children, inhibit planning, in some cases to extreme degrees. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sociological Research Online SAGE

Confidence amid Uncertainty: Ambitions and Plans in a Sample of Young Adults

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References (17)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© 2002 SAGE Publications.
eISSN
1360-7804
DOI
10.5153/sro.662
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The limited and sometimes contradictory published literature, mostly relating toyounger age groups and non-British societies, suggests that planning and alonger time perspective are inhibited by economic insecurity, by tightstructuring of the life course, and a track record of failing to achieveambitions. This paper uses survey data, backed by qualitative interviews, toinvestigate planning and forethought in a sample of young adults in the Scottishtown of Kirkcaldy in the late 1990s. Responses are compared with those of olderage groups and of people of the same age twelve years earlier. Economicinsecurity and failure to achieve ambitions had been seen by our olderrespondents as particularly characteristic of the lives of young adults.However, in spite of considerable sense of insecurity, the young adults westudied do in general feel in control of their lives, and do have wellarticulated ambitions and plans to achieve them with respect especially to workand housing. Indeed, conditions of modern life almost force many to seek to planto some degree in these areas. Forethought and an element of planning, albeitoften quite provisional in its nature, seems actually to provide some sense ofsecurity in an uncertain world. Respondents also show considerable commitment tofuture childbearing and partnership, though past experience of entry to both hasoften been fairly haphazard and there is evidence of cultural resistance tooverly rational planning in such areas. Failing to achieve ambitions in the pastdoes not affect ambitions but does limit willingness to plan for the future,especially for the long-run. Poverty and job insecurity, and also the presenceof children, inhibit planning, in some cases to extreme degrees.

Journal

Sociological Research OnlineSAGE

Published: Feb 1, 2002

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