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Title: "A life changing experience"? : a situated analysis of identity work in young people's accounts of their gap year
Author: King, Andrew
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2007
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The Gap Year has become a highly visible feature of the everyday lives of certain groups of young people in contemporary British society. Despite this, it has received relatively little academic attention. My thesis builds upon, critiques and extends this small body of work. It explores young people’s accounts of taking a pre-university Gap Year, examining how these are utilised to accomplish forms of identity work and considering what they suggest about the intersection of age and identity. The thesis applies an analytic perspective and methodology informed by ethnomethodology, conversation analysis and post-structuralism to twenty-five accounts of a pre-university Gap Year. I critically consider the collections, categories and attributes that are made relevant in these accounts and this situated analysis is used to identify three key features that enable my respondents to make claims to age identities. These are: developing the self; change and continuity in relationships; and displaying capabilities and doing competence. Overall, I propose that the Gap Year provides a ‘resource’ for young people to do identity work; more specifically, I contend that it demonstrates that adulthood is a performative identification, a situated accomplishment, rather than a fixed stage of life. My thesis has implications for the sociological analysis of identity, age and the Gap Year, amalgamating and extending these three areas of study. In opening up a new arena to explore tensions between agency and structure, individualisation and normativity, it provides new ideas for those interested in the lives of young people in contemporary, late modem society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available