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The Pathways Framework meets Consumer Culture: Young People, Careers, and Commitment

Karen Vaughan

This article engages with current debates in New Zealand over the legitimacy of various young people’s activities within a transition-to-work framework based around the metaphor of ‘pathways’. The article argues for a more complex understanding of the imperatives young people now face in choosing careers within a deregulated, seamless tertiary education system that intensifies particular kinds of consumer choice-making. Drawing on analysis from the frst year of a longitudinal study of ‘navigations’ of pathways from school, young people’s reflexive application of risk management to themselves is explored. Young people’s descriptions of their activities illustrate a ‘just in time’ flexibility sitting in tension with a ‘just in case’ pursuit of qualifications and experience. The indeterminate domains and possibilities of identity produced for young people are discussed in terms of both ‘moments of consumption’ and opportunities for critical support of young people.


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Journal article
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