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Working paper

«I Didn’t Know You Can’t Plan So Far Ahead»: Symbolic Logics Behind The Choice Of Vocational Education In Russia»

This research studies the role of culture in reproducing inequality through educational decision-making (VE) students in Russia. We show how the way they meaningfully map their options affects their decisions and outcomes. We built upon the conceptual approach of Hodkinson, specifically “horizons of action” in studying how young people are restricted by the “horizon of action” in their opportunities to see all the options available to them. We expand Hodkinson’s approach by suggesting that the “horizon of action” is a symbolic structure that renders reality as a meaningful frame of reference which is the result of meanings shaping young people’s outlook. Using this approach, we extract four complexes of meanings which we call “symbolic logics”. We investigate further how “serendipity” and “agency” are woven into young people's symbolic logics of choice. We show that students rely on a meaningful frame that allows them to be agents enacting a narrative of “bringing adulthood closer”, but they are also highly uncertain about their future and are open to serendipity which plays a large role in their trajectories.