I'm not who you think I am: identify formation and the experience of informal learning for regional young people

PhD Thesis


Pauli-Myler, Tanya. 2019. I'm not who you think I am: identify formation and the experience of informal learning for regional young people. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/PSBM-SN06
Title

I'm not who you think I am: identify formation and the experience of informal learning for regional young people

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorPauli-Myler, Tanya
SupervisorHickey, Andrew
Burton, Lorelle
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages271
Year2019
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/PSBM-SN06
Abstract

'The primacy of culture’s role as an educational site where identities are being continually transformed, power is enacted, and learning assumes a political dynamic as it becomes not only the condition for the acquisition of agency but also the sphere for imagining oppositional social change' (Giroux 2004 p. 60).

'Youth' or 'the young person' is an abstract concept; used often, unthinkingly, but without concrete, or universally agreed upon definition. Are young people the future or the ‘problem’ with society? Varying discourses define the young person in a number of ways, with the formative features of young derived from their social position and status, age and demographic, and role in wider social hierarchies. Adding to this complexity of definition, young people themselves also define themselves and the idea of ‘youth’ in a variety of ways. How a young person forms an identity1, and on whose terms, is hence a vexed problem.

The research that guided this dissertation aimed to explore how the idea of the young person was constructed, represented and viewed within three informal learning settings located in regional Queensland. The first cohort included a group of ‘disengaged’ young people within an alternative educational setting. This group was identified by the case school as disengaged and in need of a remediation program to ‘get them back on track’. The second cohort included a group of young people who attended a fortnightly LBGTQI social support group. The group, founded by Headspace Toowoomba, met with the aim of providing a social opportunity for LBGTQI identifying young people, aged between 12 and 18 years old, to be able to connect with each other in a supportive environment. The third cohort was a group of mountain bikers who would get together, ‘hang out’ and ride their bikes together. This group formed based on the desire for a group of young mountain bikers to ‘hang out’, practise their riding, and teach each other new skills.

Via these three ‘sites’, the experience of these groups of young people was examined in an effort to understand the dynamic nature of identity formation, how young people come to develop a sense of Self and, more generally understand their place within wider social contexts. This research highlights that young people have a profound understanding of their ‘place’ in the world and the challenges that confront them. Significantly, young people contend with a range of social views and stereotypes that pathologise and position young people in ‘fixed’ ways. This thesis outlines how a more comprehensive understanding of young people might develop and how opportunities for informal learning,2 engaged by young people, can mediate this process.

Keywordscritical pedagogy, sociology, education, informal learning, identity
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020441016. Urban sociology and community studies
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Humanities and Communication
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