Sociologists are generally in agreement that the closing decades of the twentieth century involved striking changes in the landscape against which British young people grew up. Transformations in education and the labour market had the potential to dramatically alter and re-shape patterns of social inequality. This thesis addresses the importance of family effects upon educational attainment, early career prospects and, in turn, the post-16 trajectories of young adults against the contextual changes of this period.
Recently, youth researchers have been keen to argue that we are continuing to progress towards a â€˜post-modern eraâ€™, which centres on the â€˜individualisationâ€™ or â€˜detraditionalisationâ€™ arguments of Beck and Giddens; where structural factors, such as gender and social class are diminishing as the defining elements of the pathway a young person will take. In this study, the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), a contemporary source of longitudinal data from the early 1990s onwards, is used to demonstrate a lack of evidence of detraditionalisation, or the weakening of structural factors in determining the outcomes of young people. To the contrary, the gap between those from advantaged and less advantaged backgrounds remains wide.
Furthermore, this research augments and extends previous studies of educational and early labour market outcomes by providing more comprehensive and integrated statistical analyses of household, family and parental effects, using techniques for longitudinal data analysis which give insight into patterns of social inequality being replicated in current contexts. Evidence using 17 years of longitudinal panel data indicate that, over time, family effects on school attainment and early labour market outcomes remain strong.