9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS15 Rethinking intergenerational transmission of inequalities

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Elements of Inequalities Building II, C6.02

Elements of Inequalities in the Life Course of Young Adults - Comparing the life course of young adults in two medium-sized towns in Finland and in Poland

Along with the globalisation process the life courses in modern
societies are changing. Comparative research indicates that the youth and young adults in all developed
countries are experiencing more insecurities than people in other age-groups. Particularly the young
adults´ labour market situation has degraded, and this group is constantly exposed to fundamental
uncertainties in its employment and working career. Furthermore, the growing economic and employment
insecurities lead young people more and more to postpone or give up family formation. At the
same time, the social inequalities are strengthened, because individual resources gain in
importance through the increasing market competition. However, the form and scope of changes in
the life course as well as the patterns of social inequality develop in different ways in different
countries varying according to the institutional settings and social structures. The institutional
settings are important - not only because they create opportunities and constraints, but - because they
reflect and help to establish normatively appropriate ways of performance. In this paper we examine the similarities and differences in the life
course of young adults in two medium-size towns in Finland and Poland. The purpose of the study is to
find out the main factors shaping the life course - and more specifically the unequal life
- of young adults in the two communities. First, we try to establish a life course regime that is
specific in both countries in terms of relevant institutional settings such as welfare regime, labour market
regulation and educational system. Secondly, we look how young adults originating from low-status
families in the two communities perceive their life conditions and opportunities, and how
they see the impact of various factors on their lives and future prospects. Thirdly, our task
is to find out how the individual trajectories and institutional settings are linked to each other.
Finally, we attempt to answer the question, whether it is possible to identify a community-specific life
course model that reproduces
The paper is based on research data collected in the EU-funded PROFIT project.