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The prevalence of 'life planning': evidence from UK graduates

Brooks, R and Everett, G (2008) The prevalence of 'life planning': evidence from UK graduates British Journal of Sociology of Education, 29 (3). pp. 325-337.

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At a time when ‘personal development planning’ is being rolled out across the UK higher education sector, this paper explores young adults’ inclinations to plan for the future in relation to work, relationships and other aspects of life. Although Giddens has emphasised the prevalence of strategic life planning (or the ‘colonisation of the future’) in all strata of contemporary society, du Bois Reymond has argued that there are important differences by social class, with young people from more privileged backgrounds more likely than their peers to engage in such life-planning activities. This paper draws on interviews with 90 young adults (in their mid-20s) to question some of these assumptions about relationships between social location and propensity to plan for the future. It shows how, within this sample at least, there was a strong association between having had a privileged ‘learning career’ (such as attending a high-status university and identifying as an ‘academic high flier’) and a disinclination to form detailed plans for the future. In part, this appeared to be related to a strong sense of ontological security and the confidence to resist what Giddens terms ‘an increasingly dominant temporal outlook’.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Department of Sociology
Authors :
Brooks, R
Everett, G
Date : 8 July 2008
DOI : 10.1080/01425690801966410
Related URLs :
Additional Information : This is an eleectronic version of an article published as Brooks R, Everett G (2008). The prevalence of 'life planning': evidence from UK graduates. British Journal of Sociology of Education 29(3):325-337. Available online at:
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 06 Jul 2012 15:27
Last Modified : 31 Oct 2017 14:40

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