Youth disaffection: an interplay of social environment, motivation, and self-construals

Hanrahan, Fidelma (2014) Youth disaffection: an interplay of social environment, motivation, and self-construals. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Youth disaffection is associated with huge personal and social costs, with future trajectories typically marked by school exclusion, poverty, unemployment, youth offending, and substance abuse. Core theoretical frameworks including perspectives concerning self-determination, self-discrepancy, and achievement motivation provide explanations for the role of social-environment factors, self-concepts and cognitions in human motivation. However, there has been little work to integrate these theories into a nuanced account of the socio-motivational processes underpinning school disaffection, and our understanding of how interventions may work to re-direct the negative trajectories remains weak. This thesis includes four papers reporting on a programme of theoretical and empirical research conducted in order to address this gap in knowledge.

The first, a theoretical paper, presents an integrated model of the development of school disaffection in which multiple self-construals play a key role in bridging the gap between need fulfilment and cognitive and behavioural indicators of school disaffection. The second paper reports on a thematic analysis of extensive semi-structured individual interviews with school-excluded young people and practitioners working with them. In accordance with our theoretical model, the accounts of the young people‟s emotional and behavioural profiles in achievement contexts were connected to need-thwarting social experiences, with maladaptive constructions of multiple selves appearing to mediate the relationship between these factors.

The third paper presents an analysis of quantitative survey data with school-excluded and mainstream secondary school pupils that investigated the direct and mediated pathways between key processes identified by our model. Results showed that pathways between key variables were moderated by the experience of exclusion such that distinct pathways emerged for excluded and non-excluded pupils. The final paper reports on an in-depth, longitudinal, idiographic study exploring the impact of theatre involvement on marginalised young people. Results from an interpretative phenomenological analysis of interview transcripts suggested that the nurturing, creative environment of the theatre project provided optimal conditions for promoting resilience and self-development in youth at risk.

Together, the findings from this programme of research highlight the crucial role played by social experiences in the development of school disaffection via the impact on self-construals, motivation and achievement goals, as well as the role they can play in supporting young people to create more positive life trajectories. This body of work has implications for further research and also carries practical implications for interventions and school-based practices seeking to both support school-disaffected children, and increase engagement in those at risk of school disaffection.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0712 Developmental psychology Including infant psychology, child psychology, adolescence, adulthood > BF0724 Adolesence. Youth
H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women > HQ0503 The Family. Marriage. Home > HQ0793 Youth. Adolescents. Teenagers
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV0697 Protection, assistance and relief > HV0700 Special classes > HV1421 Young adults. Youth. Teenagers
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2014 10:05
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2015 14:28

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