Topic: Geographies of inequalities generated by education-induced mobility imperatives
Youth (im)mobilities, and particularly those related to and induced by the seeking of education have been the focus of much research within youth studies as well as education sociology and rural sociology (see for example Farrugia 2015, Bæck 2015, Lindgren & Lundahl 2010, Bjarnason & Thorlindsson 2006, Rye 2006). However, many of these studies have, in terms of understanding the processes and structures that frame rural youth (im)mobilities a double blind side. Firstly, they tend to treat education-induced mobility processes as rural to urban mobilities, embedding mobility decisions into a narrative framework of structural and symbolic urbanization imperatives. Secondly, and closely related, these studies tend to treat `education´ generically and thereby, often overexpose youth segments who seek university-provided tertiary education – often located in larger cities – whilst underemphasising youth who seek other education programmes, including profession-based tertiary education and vocational education and training (VET) – often located more geographically dispersed than universities.
This is an unfortunate oversight, as young peoples’ education-induced mobility patterns are much more complex than classic rural-urban mobility theories would suggest, and the more temporal aspects of mobility – of disembedding processes, of education progression imperatives and of translocal pulses in such mobilities is understudied. Motility, the capacity to be mobile (Kaufmann et al 2004), is an acquired capacity that is framed by institutionalised power structures, amongst which, when it comes to young people, education systems are central.
The paper is conceptual, but empirically based on a combination of a revisited qualitative analysis of 21 narrative interviews carried out in 2015 in connection with a PhD study (Topsø Larsen, 2017) and an ongoing quantitative study of the mobility patterns of young VET students from rural areas in Denmark.
The paper argues that (rural) youth (im)mobilities are framed by specific education systems and the socio-temporal and spatial mobility corridors (Massey, Harvey) that such education systems generate. What is more, education policies often do not recognize these spatio-temporal imperatives and policy discourse focuses on youth, who are blamed for being `immobile´, implying that `overattachment to place´, particularly to small rural localities, is a detriment to education attainment. The result is socio-spatially uneven patterns of exclusion and inclusion, which effect young peoples’ chances of living where they want to and seeking the education programmes they aspire to.