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Southampton Education School

Research project: Post-16 Educational Trajectories and Social Inequalities in Political Engagement

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This project explores the difference in political engagement between young people of disadvantaged and more privileged backgrounds. It examines how this social gap in engagement changes over the life course and whether post-16 educational pathways reinforce this gap.

Dates: April 2020 to September 2021

Nuffield Foundation Grant: EDO/44157

These pathways refer to the different tracks in 16-to-19 education (such as A levels and various vocational courses) and enrolment in higher education or not. The project also explores whether these pathways have an enduring influence on young people’s political engagement and keep disadvantaged youth locked in a cycle of apathy and alienation. The focus is on post-16 pathways because the education system branches out at age 16 and because late adolescence has been identified as a crucial period for the formation of a disposition to participate.
The project will use data of the British-Household-Panel-Study/Understanding-Society (BHPS/US) in combination with data from the National Pupil Database (NPD) to explore these questions. We expect the findings of this project to contribute to the debate among policy makers and practitioners on the desirability of tracking, on the accessibility of more prestigious pathways for disadvantaged groups, and on the curriculum on offer in the various post-16 tracks If the project shows that post-16 educational pathways exacerbate social disparities in political participation, a case can be made for reforming post 16 education in ways that enhance the engagement of disadvantaged groups.

Related research groups

Leadership, Effective Education & Policy
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