University of Leicester
2016YOUNGJGEdD.pdf (1.67 MB)

An investigation into how a globalised lifestyle, international capital and an international schooling experience influence the identities and aspirations of young people

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posted on 2016-03-11, 16:06 authored by Jonathan Gerald Young
This research project focussed on the aspirations and identities of students in an international school in Belgium. Aspirations are framed and formed by both macro-level factors such as social and international capital and schooling and micro-level factors such as well-being, identity, agency, relationships and motivation: in short, via the interaction and interrelationship of self and social context. The originality of this work is in its emphasis on students' own perceptions of the influences on their aspirations, within the geographical space of Belgium and the social sub-culture of a fluid, semi-transient international social context and a local student population. The study explains, from the students' viewpoint, the factors which affect the aspirations of a privileged group of young people. This research indicates convincingly that socio-economic background and international capital are crucial factors framing and influencing young people’s expectations and aspirations. This study also shows us that home is not bound by space and mobility does not limit the participants’ sense of self-worth. Also, transience does not threaten nor hinder their stable sense of identity as their relationships with family and friends are strong and bounded by trust. In the worlds of these ‘third’ and ‘fourth’ culture young people, identities are not at all ‘fragmented’, as has been previously claimed. Additionally, the participants are very similar due to their privilege, are not naïve about their own advantage and are not 'blinkered' by their position. These findings could be of great interest to those working in an international school context. This study might help schools maximise on the international experiences of students to reflect on their global citizenship and altruism. This project has the possibility to help international school educators, who are active players in this culturally complex field better support young people in their process of identity formation in a global society.



Smith, Joan; Busher, Hugh

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Education

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • EdD



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