Empowering social capital within educational trajectories: enhancing the interaction between young people, school authorities, and families (EMPOWER)

The aim of the research project EMPOWER is to investigate the ways in which the interaction between young people, families and school takes place in educational transitions. The project address three research questions: Q1: How is the post-comprehensive transition enabled in a certain context of transition? Q2: How are the individual post-comprehensive transitions constructed? Q3: How is the empowerment enabled in a certain context of transition?

Social capital refers here not only to social connections, but also to informal and formal support. This kind of social capital is a key concept when analysing the ‘destandardised youth transitions’, like ‘risk biographies’, as well as ‘choice biographies’, as an opposite to ‘normal or standard’ biographies (Field 2015). With the concept of empowerment (see Perkins & Zimmerman 1995), the project highlights the guidance and support as a two-way process enabling young people to become individual actors, but also offering them enough support and guidance. Here the focus is on the educational biographies and the critical moments steering the educational choices and transitions. Within the project these critical moments are localized and the interaction and social relationships within these moments analyses. (Thomson, Bell & Holland 2002; Mulhall 2013.)

EMPOWER is conducted as a post-doctoral research 2018-2020. The principal researcher is Mira Kalalahti.