A sociological study of the educational and career routes of a group of Indian secondary school students in the Durban area : the transition from school to work.
Naicker, Subramunian Anand.
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This longitudinal study on the transition from school to work of a group of Indian school-leavers from two co-educational schools in Durban is an attempt to analyse the processes underlying the construction of educational and career routes. It deals with the lived experiences of boys and girls from different social-class backgrounds within the school, the family, and the work situation. This passage from school to work, which also includes the experiences of unemployment, is examined against the background of social interactions in micro settings, as well as the influences of social, structural and cultural forces. In particular, the career pathways are studied within the context of the cultural background of Indians, and their socio-historical location in the South African society as a minority and an intermediate status group in a racially-divided society. As the students proceeded through the last three years at school and into the first few months of work various qualitative, field research methods were used to get some insight into the changing and complex nature of the transitional process. These methods included participant observation, focus sed and unfocussed interviews, and discussions. Such qualitative research methods were valuable for an understanding' of the meanings and values on which the students' actions were based. The structural and interpretive analysis of the family, the school, the labour market, and a patriarchal, capitalist, apartheid society points to the significance of ideological values, hegemony, class relations, racial, gender, and political and economic influences on the construction of educational and career identities. The analysis also indicates the close relationship which exists on the one hand between the cultural interpretations and practices of various social actors; and on the other hand, the structural conditions in which these are located. The findings provide some account of how social-class relations are continued and sustained via related and different inequalities such as race and gender. Race, class and gender exist side by side in this reproduction process. By focussing on the close relationship which exists between the actions and decisions of the students, and the structures of society, this study attempts to bridge the gap between structural and interpretive explanations. The students' interpretations of their educational and career choices are brought into a closer relationship with the structures of society.