Much of the literature on the transition of young people from school was undertaken at a time when employment opportunities for young people were quantitively and qualititavely different from the 1980's. This thesis uses data collected in a longitudinal study in order to examine the youth transition in the 1980's. The young people whose experiences are studied, follow various post-sixteen routes. Not all the young people in this study have direct personal experience of unemployment, yet high levels of youth unemployment in a local labour market are shown to have far reaching consequences.\ud On an empirical level, this thesis makes a number of contributions to sociological and social-psychological knowledge of the transitional period. It examines the relationship between schooling and the local labour market, paying particular attention to the development of occupational aspirations. It looks at the development of work attitudes and shows how young people may develop "image maintenance" strategies in order to maintain their aspirations in the face of adversity.\ud On a theoretical level, the thesis enhances sociological understanding by using an experiencial dimension to bridge the gap between the structural approaches which are often neglectful of the effects of human action and interpretive approaches which are sometimes guilty of neglecting the very real constraints on action. In doing so, it goes some way towards bringing together theoretical traditions which have long been seen as irreconcilable
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