Secrets in the attic
Ever ventured into your attic to rediscover your old school essays or the Christmas tree that's been lost for years? How about uncovering a major piece of research by one of the most influential sociologists of our time?
When the field notes of a major, unpublished Norbert Elias research project were discovered in an attic at the University of Leicester there was clear excitement. Leicester’s Department of Sociology has a long and proud history and few academics were more prominent in the field than Norbert Elias.
Elias and his research team had examined the transition of school children into the world of work, through fieldwork, in the 1960s but the research remained predominantly unpublished and was considered lost. Until the find by colleagues in the University’s Centre for Labour Market Studies.
Through their work, funded by the ESRC, Dr John Goodwin and Dr Henrietta O’Connor have been able to trace many of Elias’ original respondents today as they near retirement age. Their findings have challenged current assumptions of the sixties transition into work by young people. Far from constituting a golden age of opportunity and full-employment, those leaving school during that time faced challenges we very much recognise today, with a considerable number entering a period of uncertainty - not in employment, education or training.
The new work also challenges some of the predications made by the original researchers about the ‘shock experience’ felt by young people during the transition from school to work. Another example of the University of Leicester bringing new perspectives to established ideas.