Hopes for the Future: Parents' and Children's Narratives of Children's Future Employment Orientations

Jeni Harden, Kathryn Backett-Milburn, Alice MacLean, Lynn Jamieson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

'What do you want to be when you grow up? is a question often asked of children yet little is known about how children and their parents think about their future in terms of employment. This paper, based on qualitative longitudinal research with 14 families, explores children's and parents' narratives about children's employment futures, illuminating the values, social relations and structures through which such narratives are formed. The paper reflects on the extent to which children's present lives are future orientated and the ways this future orientation manifests itself in everyday life. The findings highlight the hopes expressed by parents and the nature of parental influence in shaping their children's futures. While children's futures were not developed as precise plans, there were many ways in which they were being 'planned'. Choices were expanded or narrowed and trajectories mapped out through parents' and children's hopes, dreams and assumptions for what the future would hold. This 'planning' was framed by the families' individualised biographies and their socio-economic position.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13
Number of pages10
JournalSociological Research Online
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Children's futures
  • Intensive parenting
  • Employment


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