Globalization, Family Experiences Of Education And Imagined Futures Amongst Young People In Suburban Melbourne

Year: 2015

Author: Higginson, Jo

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

When the journal Globalization, Societies and Education was established in 2003, its founding editors argued that education as “the most commonly found institution and most commonly shared experience of all in the contemporary world” is situated on globalization’s front line (Dale and Robertson, 2003).

This presentation focuses on the initial stages and set up of my PhD study, which is being undertaken as part of the Making Futures research program on youth identities and qualitative longitudinal research (McLeod et al 2014) My specific focus is on students, schools and families whose navigation of identity and imagined futures intersects with the globalising economy and transnational experiences of work and study.
Interviews are being undertaken with senior secondary students from two state schools within suburban Melbourne. These schools are geographically proximate yet have contrasting school cultures and profiles. They are both characterized by having high numbers of students whose family and school experience spans more than one national context. I explore their subjective reflections as they negotiate the senior years of school and the transition beyond, looking at how these interact with ideas about mobility and identity. l also interview parents, many of whom have come to Australia – permanently or temporarily – specifically for employment, asking about their memories and their own educational experiences, plus their hopes for their children’s future in a new country. In focusing on transnational time, place and experience from the perspective of those within a specific setting (the school) and locality (suburban Melbourne), I am influenced by globalization sociologist Saskia Sassen’s focus on analyzing people, communities and the local as a means of understanding how particular groups of people both participate in and facilitate processes of globalization; she argues that, “localized forms are what globalization is about” (Sassen, 2005).
The parents of contemporary senior secondary students were engaged with their own school education before or during the early phases of what is widely understood as the current period of a particular form of globalization, one that was conceptualised and lexicalised in the early 1980s by Theodore Levitt of the Harvard Review, among others. McLeod and Thompson (2009) theorise the potential and ways of engaging with intergenerational research in studying social change. This paper asks: To what extent has the paradigm shifted, as it interfaces with globalization, from the concept of study, life and work within a multicultural Australia, to one in which intercultural and transnational experience dynamically shape new ways of being and becoming as well as experiences of advantage, disadvantage and imagined futures? Preliminary reflections on this question are canvassed in dialogue with the methodological affordances of qualitative longitudinal research for capturing such changes ‘in process’ at the level of biographical and inter-generational dynamics.

Jo Higginson is a PhD student at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne. Her doctoral research aligns with the ARC funded Making Futures longitudinal study (McLeod et al) which is investigating young people’s educational experiences, values and future plans, looking at how young people living in earlier times and now think about such matters over time. Jo worked in community services and social policy within federal, state and local government and the community legal sector, prior to becoming a secondary school teacher and a tutor within the Melbourne Graduate School of Education.