The paper refers to a pilot study in Lombardy (Italy), involving a small sample of looked after young people who grew up in children’s homes and/or foster families, being labelled as “at risk” from a very early age, and whose life trajectory was accompanied by professionals: social workers, in home assistants, special educators, psychotherapists, etc. The years between 18 and 21 appear crucial to pass from ‘protection’ to ‘agency’: the Italian State has special programs for this transition (this is where we met these subjects), but it is not clear how do they function. The huge investment of energies and resources to protect children, in case of abusing or negligent families, typical of contemporary times, has created a system of intervention that produces learning, at many levels, but is this learning functional to freedom, self-direction, reflexivity, and a meaningful life? A critical appreciation of the results of social intervention needs to be done. What are the practices, and their results? The focus of intervention is very often on the economic, social, and psychological aspects. There is not much research on the specific learning factors, intervening in the process of identity building, life and career design, relational life. This is a hole in research, and quite strange, since most of these youngsters had educators working with them, from infancy to maturity. What are the conditions to create a good enough learning experience for these young adults (Reid & West, 2015), facing the passage from school to work, from protection to agency, from a ‘welfare life’ to self-direction and responsibility? And all happening at the same time? Do stories have the power to make any difference, in relation to our understanding and knowledge, but also in the lives we are studying? We will use auto/biographic methods (Merrill & West, 2009) to create a basis for reflection and reflexivity, both in the researchers and in the involved subjects. The research question is: how can stories, told by insiders of experience, illuminate processes of learning that accompany the development of an adult identity, for people who are under State protection until mature age, and how do they grow their potential, re-positioning themselves as adults in a system of interdependent and complex relationships, in a certain territory, in a community? How are these stories influenced by the larger society, dominant discourses, cultural models, processes of stigmatization, etc.? These young adults have to face a dominant narration that begins with multi problematic families, passes through social services and school under-achievement, and points directly towards professional failure or low qualified careers. Besides, they develop perspectives of meaning, scripts, and worldviews that are coherent with the systems and contexts around them. As we approach these stories from the point of view of complexity theories, it appears clear how macro, meso and micro levels are strictly intertwined in shaping these trajectories (Formenti, 2012). Following Margaret Archer morphogenetic approach (Archer, 2003) we can consider how structural factors condition social interaction but also, on the other side, how agency can mediate and transform them through reflexivity (Archer, 2010). We will search, in stories, clues of the factors that have the power, at certain conditions, to “unstick” (Field & Lynch, 2015) these young adults from a self-fulfilling prophecy. Were the different systems they grew in (original family, foster family and/or children’s home, school, groups, community) and their frames coherent and easy to compose, or did they – more probably - clash? And eventually, was the clash able to generate disorienting dilemmas that triggered transformative learning (Mezirow, 2000, 2009). Besides, which kind of transitional spaces (West, & Carlson, 2007) were able to foster emancipatory learning? Which kind of guidance (Reid, 2016) – or other meaningful relationships – was offered to these young adults to allow what has been called “biographicity” (Alheit & Dausien, 2000), that is the possibility to develop a new script, a different identity/theory, or even a deep understanding of the action of social determinants in one’s life, so as to re-design it in more adaptive and meaningful terms? The paper analyzes different kinds of data (qualitative and quantitative) through questionnaires, interviews and focus group, especially our research focuses its investigative efforts with the auto/biographic methods, and with in-depth interviews. The paper will reflect on data from the first analysis of the interviews.
Formenti, L., Galimberti, A., & Ferrari, M. (2016). Transition to adulthood: stories from looked after young adults. Intervento presentato a: ESREA Triennial European Research Conference. Imaging diverse futures for adult education: questions of power and resources of creativity., Maynooth, Ireland.
|Citazione:||Formenti, L., Galimberti, A., & Ferrari, M. (2016). Transition to adulthood: stories from looked after young adults. Intervento presentato a: ESREA Triennial European Research Conference. Imaging diverse futures for adult education: questions of power and resources of creativity., Maynooth, Ireland.|
|Tipo:||slide + paper|
|Carattere della pubblicazione:||Scientifica|
|Presenza di un coautore afferente ad Istituzioni straniere:||No|
|Titolo:||Transition to adulthood: stories from looked after young adults|
|Autori:||Formenti, L; Galimberti, A; Ferrari, M|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2016|
|Nome del convegno:||ESREA Triennial European Research Conference. Imaging diverse futures for adult education: questions of power and resources of creativity.|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||02 - Intervento a convegno|