Becoming an adult in rural Scotland
Utilising original empirical research as a mode of contributing to theoretical understanding in the sociology of youth, the thesis posits that young people anticipate transitions with a possible future adult self in mind and such orientation mediates their present decisions around anticipated transitions. Whilst there is a subjective emphasis by young people on individual negotiation and control in the construction of their possible adult selves, it is nonetheless demonstrated that traditional determinants of social reproduction such as class of origin, family background, place of residence and gender remain influential. The research thus finds utility in the concept of structured possible selves. Through identifying the silient issues young people in four rural areas face in becoming an adult it is demonstrated that whilst there is some evidence of a biographical approach to the life-course, with some rural young people actively negotiating their way in a positive manner, others are acting through a paucity of alternatives. Living in a rural area adds further complexity to transitional decision-making as well as engagement in youth cultural behaviours hence prognosis of a disembedding of place and a decline in community and family ties is premature. A distinct aspect to living in a rural area is that more often than not, young people cannot make a post-compulsory educational choice without making other choices mainly because of limited employment opportunities and the absence of post-secondary educational institutions in rural areas. Decisions of migration are accompanied by financial decisions and also the personal/social decision to leave a community and social network that they are familiar with and often dependent upon. The research suggests that there are not only some unique issues for rural young people as they become adults, but also that the findings point to rural differentiation in their experience.