Skip to main content

Research Repository

See what's under the surface

The prevalence of 'life planning': Evidence from UK graduates

Everett, Glyn; Brooks, Rachel


Rachel Brooks


At a time when 'personal development planning' is being rolled out across the UK higher education sector, this paper explores young adults' inclinations to plan for the future in relation to work, relationships and other aspects of life. Although Giddens has emphasised the prevalence of strategic life planning (or the 'colonisation of the future') in all strata of contemporary society, du Bois Reymond has argued that there are important differences by social class, with young people from more privileged backgrounds more likely than their peers to engage in such life-planning activities. This paper draws on interviews with 90 young adults (in their mid-20s) to question some of these assumptions about relationships between social location and propensity to plan for the future. It shows how, within this sample at least, there was a strong association between having had a privileged 'learning career' (such as attending a high-status university and identifying as an 'academic high flier') and a disinclination to form detailed plans for the future. In part, this appeared to be related to a strong sense of ontological security and the confidence to resist what Giddens terms 'an increasingly dominant temporal outlook'. © 2008 Taylor & Francis.

Journal Article Type Review
Publication Date May 1, 2008
Journal British Journal of Sociology of Education
Print ISSN 0142-5692
Electronic ISSN 1465-3346
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 29
Issue 3
Pages 325-337
APA6 Citation Everett, G., & Brooks, R. (2008). The prevalence of 'life planning': Evidence from UK graduates. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 29(3), 325-337.
Keywords graduates, higher education, life planning
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information :