Encounters between children’s agency and the structures of social mobility: a case study of adolescents’ aspirations in Ankara, Turkey

Soyalp Gülcügil, Iraz Öykü
The objective of this thesis is to study the encounter between the structure and agency on the basis of adolescents’ aspirations for social mobility. The thesis has written in a Bourdieusian theoretical framework and has adopted a qualitative longitudinal methodology. Findings show that it is unfair to expect a fairer social stratification system and a more equal society based on the aspirations of adolescents. Parentocracy appears to be a more powerful determinant than meritocracy as opposed to what is suggested by the neoliberal politics. As habitus plays the convener role, positions occupied in the social space, aspirations and strategies adopted to realize the aspirations are affected by adolescents’ socioeconomic status and the capitals their parents possess. However, habitus also facilitates the internalization of the neoliberal discourse on the equality of opportunities. It becomes a doxa leading to the neglect of the social structures that v may enable or impede social mobility. As a result, a neoliberal subject is successfully constructed releasing the tension between the structure and the agency. Hence, the key channel to realize the aspirations appears to be the agency itself. Adolescents, when encountered with a recognized social structure, a centrally organized examination in the case of this research, start hesitating about the realization of their future aspirations. Nevertheless, they continue keeping the focus on their agency leading to the development of coping strategies, varying based on the socio-economic status and gender, against the social structures with the exception of patriarchy. Despite the decipher of the gender ideology, patriarchy appears to be the only social structure that is not neglected and not to be struggled against by the adolescents, especially among the low socio-economic status girls.


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Citation Formats
I. Ö. Soyalp Gülcügil, “Encounters between children’s agency and the structures of social mobility: a case study of adolescents’ aspirations in Ankara, Turkey,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2018.