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Making their minds up: Students´ choice to study social work in Iraklio, Greece
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Social Welfare.
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The present thesis examines the possible reasons social workers have for entering and eventually graduating from the Social Work Department in Iraklio, Greece. It is a three-phase study, consisting of three distinct but related research parts; each research part is built upon knowledge, issues and questions derived from the preceding part.

My background in sociology influenced the choice of theoretical perspectives; I was not interested in investigating students’ choice from a psychologically-based perspective. Bourdieu (e.g. 1977; 1987) and the work of others who have drawn on and developed his work (e.g. Hodkinson & Sparkes, 1997; Reay, 1998a) constituted a theoretical framework. In addition, theoretical perspectives which recognise the interplay between individual and structural factors (e.g. Kasimati, 1991) also proved useful. In this work both quantitative and qualitative approaches (grounded theory, narrative analysis) were employed.

The findings contradict views that stress the degree of free choice people have about work; it is clear that external structural factors limit or contribute to the shaping of this choice. This is not to say, however, that the findings stress the determining influence of solely external factors on students’ choice. Students in this thesis describe actively making decisions; they are players in the field of education. They enter the field with unequal amounts of capital (economic, cultural); thus, although in theory everyone is free to play, not everyone is equal. To the extent that they have different social backgrounds (gender, class), their classed-and-gendered habitus differs as well. In the process of students’ educational choice, their habitus along with the particular educational system (with all its opportunities and restrictions) influence students’ horizons for action, their perceptions of what is available and appropriate for them. The high value placed on higher education (educational fetishism) is another factor influencing students’ horizons for action. In the context of their horizons for action, students employ a variety of strategies in order to enter higher education (e.g. the way they prepare for the exams, their ranking of Schools in preference order etc). The outcome of these strategies is their admission to the Social Work Department, which may have been intended or unintended. After having entered Social Work, additional factors influence students’ educational choice; experiences within the School (e.g. practice tutorials) contribute to their attitude towards social work and their studies, thus to their decision to graduate from the Social Work Department. Students’ decision-making process is made up of patterns of routine experience interspersed with turning points.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Socialt arbete , 2004. , 196 p.
Studier i socialt arbete vid Umeå universitet : avhandlings- och skriftserie, ISSN 0283-300X ; 40
Keyword [en]
Social service, educational choice, occupational choice, social work students, practice tutorials, habitus, field, gendered habitus, turning points, routines, misrecognition, educational fetishism
Keyword [sv]
Socialt arbete
National Category
Social Work
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-321ISBN: 91-7305-718-5OAI: diva2:143094
Public defence
Available from: 2004-09-21 Created: 2004-09-21Bibliographically approved

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