Scholars have recognized young people's educational expectations as a key factor in predicting educational outcomes, but few studies have attempted a comprehensive classification of how young people's educational expectations are shaped. In this article, I outline a typology of how young people from different social class origins shape their educational expectations. Drawing on 100 interviews with 15-year-olds, I find two underlying dimensions in young people's accounts of their educational expectations: how risk aware they are and how goal oriented they are. These dimensions translate into a heuristic model for understanding the structure of young people's educational expectations. I identify four major approaches to shaping educational expectations - the confident, the determined, the explorative, and the anxious - and show how these approaches connect to the young people's class origin. The typology of approaches offers a conceptual framework for understanding the mechanisms that lead young people to shape their expectations in qualitatively different ways.
About this publication
Published inThe British Journal of Sociology