Seminar on Work transitions and Well-being 25.-26.10.2010
The Finnish Institute in London
35-36 Eagle Street
London WC1R 4AQ, UK
1. Youth transitions: from predictable to precarious pathways to adult well-being
The presentation will focus on the effect of the current recession on youth transitions in the context of the historical shifts in youth transitions that have been evident since the 1970s. Using data from a range of sources, the particular focus will be on the importance of successful transitions to adult life as manifested in psychological and physical well-being and the damaging effects that recession has though the restriction of opportunities for success.
2. Trajectories from youth to adulthood: Choice and structure for young people before and during recession
Rosalind Edwards and Susie Weller
This paper is concerned with what the economic recession and rising youth unemployment might mean for young people’s trajectories into adulthood. It is based on a qualitative longitudinal study, conducted in the U.K. that has been tracking young people’s lateral relationships over the past 7-8 years. A series of case studies are used, drawing on Brannen and colleagues’ four-fold transitions typology which highlights the structural forces underpinning the choices young people are able to make. The paper argues that young people enter a period of economic recession with prior resources and particular trajectories already in play in their lives. Thus, for the young people in this study, rather than recession bringing about a changed or fractured pathway into adulthood, it is providing a certain set of conditions for embedding particular, pre-existing trajectories.
3. Adolescents’ Well-Being Trajectories and the Financial Status. A Successful Transition to Early Adulthood
This longitudinal study examines how adolescents’ financial status is related to subjective well-being during the challenging developmental transition from upper secondary education into further education and employment. This presentation’s purpose is (1) to identify adolescents’ subjective well-being trajectories in the transition to adulthood and (2) to study how the financial status is associated with the identified youth well-being trajectories.
The present study is part of the Finnish Educational Transitions (FinEdu) longitudinal study, in which 614 adolescents from six upper secondary schools participated. The students filled in questionnaires in four measurement points, twice before (18 and 19 years of age) and twice after (20 and 22 years of age) the transition. Participants answered questions on economic conditions (self-reported objective income and subjective appraisal of personal current and near future income adequacy) in measurements after the transition.
Statistical analyses revealed four distinct well-being trajectories differing in level and change: two major classes having stable high trajectories and two smaller classes having significant increasing and decreasing changes in well-being. Moreover, the stable high classes indicated higher self-reported subjective income levels at the fourth measurement than the changing trajectory classes.
4. Work values and precarious jobs
The paper will discuss of the findings of the research project of The changing lifestyles and values of temporary employed young people in the different labour markets of Finland (WORK-Preca 2008-2011). This research is concentrated on a short-term employment from the viewpoint of attitudes, values, future orientations and life-styles of young people. The paper is analysing the issues of short-term precarious employment and problems in transitions to work of young people. Transition periods to adulthood seem to be longer and more complicated when the nature of the employment is short term. A case study interview data (N=20) gathered in 2009-2010 among young people working temporarily in tourism in Lapland will give new aspects in young people’s work values, future expectations and careers. The hypothesis is that the short-term and temporary employment is changing the identity, future expectations and work values of young people. This value shift extends to attitudes towards employment politics and life-styles of young people.
5. The situation of the young unemployed people from the sociological agency –point of view: an empirical analysis
The so called activating labor -market policies were introduced in Western countries in the 1990’: first in Britain, later also in the Scandinavian countries. The rationale of the measures is to activate and encourage young unemployed people during their unemployment periods.
In the aftermatch of the recession that began in the 2008, and especially the youth unemployment rate still stays extremely high for ex. in Finland, the activating measures can be even dysfunctional for at least part of the young unemployed. There are more and more highly educated unemployed people in the European countries, and more and more also among the young with academic education. They can find the “sticks” and “carrots” of the activating labor-market measures even humiliating: all the courses and “trainings” which they are forced to go to, and which many of them consider as useless.
This paper is based on my ongoing research. I analyze the qualitative material produced in the internet-survey I made in the spring 2009. (N 770; qualitative answers to be analyzed here 440 pieces.) I investigate from these descriptions – on “my everyday-life as young unemployed” – the ways in which these young (16-29 year old) unemployed people describe, and some of them also struggle for maintaining their desires, capacities and skills. I also ask how their “agency” can be approached through these descriptions.
6. Learning and Life Chances Through the Lifecourse: youth in retrospect through the lens of adult biographical negotiation.
Social, economic and cultural factors influence individuals’ attempts to control their lives, their ability to respond to opportunities and to manage the consequences of their choices. The ways in which individuals react to degrees of risks and the extent to which differences in socio-economic outcomes are influenced by factors such as parental background, educational attainments and participation in education and training after entering the workforce. This overview reviews what the literature and our own research to date tells us about ‘risk’ and the dynamics of learning throughout the life course. Against a backcloth of what we already know about changing constellations of risk and opportunity in early childhood and the transitions of secondary, further and higher education the paper focuses on employment transitions and the opportunities for different groups of adult workers to engage in lifelong learning, and considers how their experiences are rooted in prior learning as well as shaped by contingencies of the present moment and what they believe to be possible for them in the future. The evidence points to the need to consider heterogeneity in life and work experiences at all ages, the need for more flexible and diversified life course models within which youth research can be positioned and interpreted , and the need for broader definitions of ‘successful’ transitions and outcomes, taking into account variation in resources among different subgroups of the population. The paper concludes by bringing together what ‘riskiness’ in the life course actually means from different perspectives. It elaborates significant questions about riskiness and learning through the life course and shows how the LLAKES Centre’s interdisciplinary research programme is builds on existing research to explore and answer these questions. The analysis to date implies a movement from narrow versions of rational choice to biographical negotiation as a dominant life-course model for effective policy-making.
7. Family Lives and Community Relationships in the Constructions of Black Young People’s Well-being
For young people with minority ethnic/migrant backgrounds, establishing a sense of belonging to their family and community is essential for wellbeing. This paper describes the social and cultural factors associated with subjective wellbeing among a cohort of black young people (age 16-25 years old) living in three socially deprived neighbourhoods of London. The findings reported here are drawn from two studies: ‘Caribbean Families, Social Capital and Young People’s Diasporic Identities’ (2003-7), explores how family and kinship relationships, friendship networks, neighbourhood and community participation operate as important social resources for black young people’s ethnic identity formation. ‘RAW Young People’s and Parenting Leadership Programme’ (2008), focuses on how black young people’s relationships with their parents and within local neighborhood, inform their understandings of self. In this discussion I argue that the key factors strongly associated with subjective wellbeing outcomes are those that can be described as indicators of belonging. Within this context I consider the importance of perceived social status within ethnic, local (i.e. neighbourhood), national and transnational communities. I also consider how ethnic-specific and more general community programmes and policies can ultimately be effective in improving and hindering black young people’s subjective wellbeing.
8. Precarious work history and mental well-being among young Finnish employees
Ellen Ek, Anita Sirviö, Markku Koiranen, Anja Taanila
This study examined the effect of precarious work history (temporary and part-time present employment and unstable work history ) on work related psychological well-being among young employees at age 31, controlling for pre work mental disorders and job strain. The data of 1070 women and 1030 men was derived from the prospective unselected population-based “Northern Finland 1966 Birth cohort”-study. Results of logistic regression models showed that among men, precarious work (crude OR 1.8. CI 1.2; 2.6) and a pre work mental disorder (crude OR 2.9 CI 1.1; 7.6) associated with poor work-related psychological well-being at 31 years These associations diminished when job strain was added into to the model, working in a passive work (low control-low demands) being the strongest factor associated with poor work-related psychological well-being (OR 2.4 CI 1.4; 4.0) at 31 years. Among women, precarious work (crude OR 1.1. CI 0.7; 1.6) or a pre work mental disorder (crude OR 0.8. CI 0.1; 6.1) were not associated with poor work-related psychological well-being at 31 years. Instead, working in a passive (OR 2.3 CI 1.3; 4.1) or strained (low control- high demands) work (OR 3.2. CI 1.9; 5.6) were the only factors associating with work-related psychological well-being.
These results emphasize the role of control over work in the enhancement of work-related psychological well-being among young employees having a precarious work history.
1. Inventing Adulthoods: Young people growing up in Northern Ireland
Sheena McGrellis and Janet Holland
This paper draws on data from the Inventing Adulthoods study, which has followed young people in five sites in the UK through their transitions to adulthood since 1997, when they were aged between 12 and 18. Here we want to discuss data from the Northern Ireland site where a recent round of interviews were undertaken in 2009/10. As well as giving an overview of the young people’s experiences of balancing work, education and family in all of the sites over the years, we will focus on the NI group in more detail. The most recent interviews provide insight into the challenges young adults face around work and employment and the effects these have on their health and wellbeing.
2. Young people, class and lifestyles: combining leisure, education and work
Social class has not been very popular focus of sociology in recent years . However, recently new studies on social class have appeared (Devine & Savage 2005, Skeggs 2004, Tolonen 2008c). One aim of this study is to highlight the importance of conceptualising social class in contemporary Finnish society and to connect social class with lifestyles of and cultural practices of young people including leisure practices and education and ideas of work in future. Following the studies of MacDonald and Shirldrick (2006, 2007) I will suggest, that one way of studying class is to study educational attitudes and practises of young people’s leisure time jointly- thus include young people’s relation to education into analysis of leisure practises (cf. Skeggs 1997, also Willis 1986). In this presentation I seek through some cases how young people fit their work, education and leisure together forming (class based) lifestyles of their own.
This presentation is based on ongoing research project , Young people’s lifestyles, leisure time and formation of social class focusing on young people’s leisure time and social relations. The qualitative data of 39 interviews of young people (from 13 to 17 years of age) in Helsinki (33) and in North Eastern town Kajaani (6) has been collected. Of all, 16 were girls and 23 boys. The interviewees were found through youth work (22) and schools (17). I have also used ethnographic research methods (observing youth houses, shopping centres, meetings of inhabitants, activists & workers and collecting maps and photos) in one suburban area in Helsinki.
3. Living the dream?:A qualitative study exploring the role of teenage aspirations across the lifespan
Julie Ashby and Ingrid Schoon
”Your aspirations are your possibilities” ¾ Samuel Johnson
This paper seeks to gain a more rounded and in depth understanding of the role that teenage career aspirations play across the lifespan. The association between teenage career aspirations and adult career attainment has been established in previous research (e.g., Clausen, 1995; Croll, 2008; Elder, 1974/1999; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994; Mello, 2008; Schoon, Martin, & Ross, 2007; Schoon & Parsons, 2002; Wilson & Wilson, 1992). Young people with high career aspirations are more likely to (a) enter a professional career and (b) earn more money in adulthood. There is also evidence to suggest that values regarding future jobs are linked to teenage career aspirations and career development (Ashby & Schoon, in press, Eccles, 2009; Eccles, Barber, & Jozefowicz, 1999; Liem & Nie, 2008). For example, Eccles et al. (1999) found that valuing helping others predicted teenager’s plans to enter either human service or health related professions. Similarly, Ashby & Schoon (in press) found that valuing getting ahead and being challenged in a job (as teenagers) was associated with higher earnings in adulthood. According to Salmela-Aro (2009), teenage aspirations and goals act like a compass to help chart a lifespan and direct the spending of time and energy (see also Nurmi, Salmela-Aro, & Koivisto, 2002). However, there appears to be a lack of research linking career aspirations and values expressed during adolescence to adult outcomes beyond career and income attainment, and to general feelings of accomplishment or wellbeing (Ashby & Schoon, in press; Ritchie, Flouri & Buchanan, 2004).
Using semi-structured interview data and drawing on social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979), models of lifespan motivation (e.g., Salmela-Aro & Nurmi, 2004) and research in economic and developmental psychology (e.g., Eccles, 2009), the aim of this article is to close this evidence gap by focusing on the way in which (if at all) career aspirations and values expressed during adolescence influence not only adult career outcomes but also experiences of wellbeing and a positive sense of self. In light of the current economic recession and resultant (possible) difficulties in reaching one’s teenage career aspirations, a better understanding of the role of early aspirations in shaping adult wellbeing and identity is instructive. It is also timely given recent policy and government discussions encouraging young people to “aim high” (e.g., HM Government & DCSF, 2010; HM Treasury & DCSF, 2007; President Barack Obama, 2010).
A qualitative methodology was chosen because it provides a rich and detailed source of data, which is useful given the lack of research in this area. Uniquely, the participants were all part of a continuing 50-year British follow-up study. The longitudinal nature of the study allowed in-depth qualitative data at age 50 to be combined with quantitative data spanning participants’ entire lives. Specifically, this meant that teenage career aspirations and valued job characteristics at age 16 could be linked to participants’ interview data at age 50. Thematic analysis was used to uncover the main themes that ran through the interviews as a whole (see Braun & Clarke, 2006).
Career pathways are complex and constantly evolving, yet all of the nineteen participants fulfilled their teenage career aspirations at some point over a 35 period either through (a) achieving the exact career they aspired to, (b) achieving the social status of career they aspired to, or (c) finding a job that matched their teenage values (in some cases to prioritise family). Overall, these findings imply that future pathway models of career development could be strengthened by (a) including more than one time point in adulthood, (b) taking account of family aspirations, and (c) exploring the role of teenage career aspirations in predicting the exact type of occupation people enter.
A key finding from the analysis was that meaningful or authentic (as opposed to “high”) teenage aspirations appeared to be linked to a positive sense of self and greater wellbeing. Although further research is needed to validate this finding, it appears that in relation to wellbeing and identity, what matters is not just whether you aim “high” (i.e., for a professional or managerial profession) but whether your aspiration is “authentic” or meaningful to you. For example, one female participant aspired to an art career after her father “got her into art.” She went on to fulfill this aspiration in adulthood and described how it “gave her a strong sense of identity” and made her “happy” with what she did. In line with previous findings (Baumeister & Leary, 1995), family and social ties acted as a key source of wellbeing. As one male participant, who fulfilled his childhood aspiration to work in banking yet did not have a partner or children said, “I’ve got a good job, good income and yet I’m still jealous of people that are earning a tenth of what I’ve got that are happily married with two kids, you know, I haven’t got that side of life”. Further themes and implications for policy are discussed.
4. Virtual workers – Young people between virtual and real worlds
Young people’s playing and internet-use are new research topics in the field of youth studies. Public and scientific discussions on positive and negative sides are ongoing. Young people are seen threatened by internet addiction and exclusion from the real world. On the other hand internet has brought numerous learning and communication possibilities for young people.
While interviewing young unemployed people I came across new phenomena. The young unemployed spent a lot of time in the internet in virtual worlds and playing massive multiplayer online role-playing games. Some of them compared their playing to work. Two young people mentioned having “virtual jobs” in virtual environments.
In this presentation I use my interview-data and data from virtual game environments to discuss different aspects of young people’s playing. In what ways these young people compare their playing to work? What are the possibilities to gain different capitals in multiplayer games?
This presentation is a part of WORK-Preca research project.
5. The role of school motivation in predicting adult psychosocial status in a changing socio-historical context
Helen Cheng and Ingrid Schoon
This paper examines the influences of parental social status, childhood cognitive ability and school motivation, on adult social status attainment and mental health in a changing socio-historical context. The study draws on data collected for two longitudinal studies, following the lives of over 10,000 individuals born in the UK in 1958 and 1970, enabling the comparison of pathways linking early life course experiences to adult outcomes in times of social change, as reflected in changing labour market opportunities and the increasing demand for a skilled work force. The subjects were 3104 men and 3229 women who participated in the 1958 National Child Development Study and 3049 men and 2692 women from the 1970 British Cohort Study, following their lives from childhood to their mid thirties. Using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM), a pathway model of transgenerational status attainment is tested, taking into account the context as well as the timing of individual status transitions. The findings suggest that school motivation in addition and above parental social background and childhood cognitive ability predicts adult psychosocial status. The influence of parental social background and early cognitive ability on adult status attainment are partially mediated through school motivation and education participation, opening up leverage for possible interventions.
6. The Role of Social Strategies and Social Areas of Worklife in Job Burnout: A longitudinal Study.
Hely Innanen and Katariina Salmela-Aro
This longitudinal study tested a structural model linking employees´ social strategies (such as social pessimism and social optimism), and perceptions of social areas of worklife (rewards, sense of community, fairness and values) to job burnout. University employees (N=286) in Finland completed measures of social strategies (SAQ), areas of worklife (AWLS) and job burnout (MBI-GS) at two times with a 1-year interval. One year later when the study was repeated, 111 participants returned the questionnaire. It was hypothesized that the relations between areas of worklife and the dimensions of job burnout would be moderated by employee social strategies. The results showed that both social pessimism and lack of social optimism, insufficient rewards, lack of sense of community, unfairness and value conflicts between the employee and the organization were significantly related to job burnout at Time 1. Social strategies were not related to job burnout, but insufficient rewards, lack of sense of community and value conflicts were related to job burnout at Time 2. The findings supported the moderator role of social pessimism between organizational fairness and job burnout over time. Finally, job burnout, social strategies and areas of worklife showed stability over time.
Key words: job burnout, social optimism, social pessimism, rewards, community, fairness, values, longitudinal study.
7. The role of supervisor and network ties in newcomers’ performance and adjustment to work
Many scholars have focused on new employee socialization as an interpersonal process in which interaction between newcomers and organizational insiders is a main factor contributing to newcomers’ adjustment to work and integration into workplace. Previous research has mainly examined newcomers’ interaction with formal organizational ties, such as supervisors and co-workers. Leader-member exchange (LMX) research in particular has shown the importance of supervisors in employees’ career development. However, the social network approach suggests that also informal social ties may play an important role during organizational entry. This paper examines how newcomers’ network and LMX relationships contribute to their job performance and adjustment to work after organizational entry. A sample of 234 new employees filled in questionnaires which included network (network density, information giving) and LMX measures. Socialization outcome measures included role clarity and identification with organization. In addition, supervisors evaluated newcomers’ job performance. The preliminary results indicated that newcomers’ network structure and information giving to network ties related to job performance. In addition, preliminary results showed that working relationship with supervisor (LMX) related to role clarity and identification with organization.
8. Who becomes an entrepreneur? Early life experiences as predictors of entrepreneurship.
Ingrid Schoon and Kathryn Duckworth
The aim of this study is to examine early life course influences shaping the assumption of entrepreneurship. The study is guided by a developmental-contextual model of career development, taking into account multiple influences within the proximal family environment. Using a longitudinal approach, following young people from birth to age 34, we examine the role of parental social background, parenting characteristics, as well as cognitive ability, behaviour, self concepts, and ambition values expressed during adolescence as predictors of self employment by age 34. The study draws on data collected for the 1970 British Birth cohort, comprising an analytic sample of 7,462 economically active individuals. Entrepreneurship at age 34 is defined by employment status (full time self employment and owning own business). We differentiate pathways associated with entrepreneurship in general and successful entrepreneurship. The latter is defined by indicators of income level, time in self employment, number of employees, and job satisfaction and security. Within our sample we could identify 732 men and women who were full-time self employed at age 34, and 516 who also owned their own business. Significant predictors of entrepreneurship include parental social background, in particular whether the father had been self-employed himself, involved parenting, as well as internal locus of control, high levels of self esteem, prosocial behaviour, and ambition values expressed at age 16, including the wish to work for oneself, to be trained for a profession, and not to waste time doing very little or being unproductive. The findings suggest intergenerational transmission of values and a clear career focus on being productive (which is manifest already by age 16) as being crucial in predicting who becomes an entrepreneur. Implications for career support and guidance and future leadership research and training are discussed.