Relational Analysis of the Phenomenon of Early School Leaving: A Habitus Typology

Erna Nairz, Marie Gitschthaler

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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Although there is an extensive body of literature on the causes and consequences of early school leaving (ESL), little is known of how early school leavers cope with their situation after having left the education system. This paper’s main objective is to fill this research gap. At first we look at developments in the social positioning of early school leavers in Austria that show that their situation has deteriorated not only because of changes in the labour market (e.g. due to globalization) but also because of displacement processes that are influenced by habitus formation and capital endowment. Drawing on Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and capital, we explored the situation of young people who had left school early. We used a multi-perspective approach and conducted 123 narrative interviews which we analysed by grouping cases that demonstrated similar social practice and perception patterns generated by a set of socially learned dispositions. Thus we were able to reconstruct a habitus typology consisting of seven different types: the ‘ambitious’, the ‘status-oriented’, the ‘non-conformist’, the ‘disoriented’, the ‘resigned’, the ‘escapist’ and the ‘caring’. How young people experience stigmatization is the common thread that runs through all seven habitus types.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398 - 411
JournalEuropean Educational Research Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 504005 Educational sociology
  • 504007 Empirical social research
  • 503006 Educational research
  • 503018 University didactics
  • 503
  • 503009 Adult education
  • 504021 Migration research

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