Tuesday, 19 February 2013

‘Sticky Subjects’ or ‘Cosmopolitan Creatives’? Social Class, Place and Urban Young People’s Aspirations for Work in the Knowledge Economy

an article by Kim Allen (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK) and Sumi Hollingworth (London Metropolitan University, UK) published in Urban Studies Volume 50 Number 3 (February 2013)


Aspirations have been a key target of education policy, situated as central to meeting the needs of the ‘knowledge economy’.

In the UK, there have been calls to raise young people’s aspirations for careers in the creative industries – identified as emblematic of the new economic order and a key growth sector.

Yet, the sector is socially and spatially restricted, characterised by unclear entry routes, exclusionary working practices and uneven geographical concentration.

This paper draws on research with young people (aged 14–16 years) living in three urban areas of deindustrialisation in England to examine the geography of young people’s aspirations for careers in the creative industries.

The concept of place-specific habitus is used to problematise asocial and aspatial discourses of aspiration and to illuminate how social class and place powerfully and complexly interrelate to shape young people’s opportunities for social and geographical mobility through and for work in the knowledge economy.

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