Project Directory - Project Entry

CCRU home background on CCRU community relations equality and equity research

Project Title:Pathways
Contact:Dr Jean Whyte
Address:University of Dublin
Trinity College
Dublin 2
Telephone:003531 608 1551
Fax:003531 671 2152


To investigate Pathways, Opportunities and Influences for two cohorts of young people in Belfast (funded by the PSEPII) and Dublin (funded by the Dept. of Education, Dublin) who participated in earlier studies carried out by the same researcher when they were aged 12 in 1981 and 1992 respectively.

Cohort A: Currently aged about 25
Cohort B: Currently aged about 16
Pathways = the routes followed by Group A to their present positions in society; the circumstances of Group B

Opportunities = educational, training, community involvement and general experience opportunities availed of by the 25 year olds and open to the 16/17 year olds.

Influences = family relationships, community involvement, socio-political attitudes, personality factors such as self esteem.

Associations between the findings and the outcomes of the studies at age 12 will be explored. The outcomes of their education and training experiences and the opinions of the subjects on these matters will be particularly relevant for policy making.

i) Pathways;

Markers along the pathways would include:
* their educational achievements
* employment history
* living arrangements
* leisure activities, cultural involvement
* community involvement of themselves and their parents
* cross-community contacts and attitudes (Belfast Groups)
* perception of the reasons for community division (Belfast Groups)
* attitudes towards the 'other' community and culture (Belfast Groups)
* reactions to the peace process
* feelings about the future of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
* beliefs about the social contract (rights and responsibilities as citizens)
* self-completion inventory on self-esteem and self-concept
* questions on brushes with the law and (for Belfast only) Troubles related events.

N.B. Confidentiality of responses is being rigorously assured.

ii) Opportunities;

1) Education/Training:
To establish the kinds of opportunities availed of by the subjects (particularly Cohort A, the older Cohort) for education and training after leaving school; the awareness of the younger cohort of these opportunities and their intentions with regard to them:
* to determine the outcome of the educational and training opportunities for those who availed of them in terms of employment and employment aspirations.
* to examine attitudes towards the availability of such programmes and their content and administration.
* to establish employment history and outcomes for those who did not avail of programmes specifically orientated towards job training.

2) Community Relations
(Belfast Groups): To report on the extent to which the subjects have had opportunities for cross-cultural contact and exposure to the 'other tradition' - in school and in the course of their activities; to ascertain their perception of the value of such contacts and elicit suggestions for alternatives and developments.
(Dublin Groups): To establish the extent to which they have been involved in voluntary organisations concerned with community action or social, cultural and sporting activities.

3) To investigate the extent to which subjects had opportunities to become aware of political and social issues through reading the newspaper, watching television etc and to become involved in politics.

iii) Influences:

To determine some of the familial, social political and educational influences which appear to have shaped the direction their lifepaths have taken so far; the outcomes at (1) above will be set against the data existing from the previous studies by the same researcher with the same subjects in the following areas:

* Material prosperity
* Paternal nurturance and control
* Independence and autonomy at age 12 (survival skills, commitment, outreach)
* Interest in current affairs
* Attitudes towards education
* Future orientation
* Educational achievements (to be obtained from present investigation).

Anticipated outcomes of the study:

1. The findings will add to our body of theoretical and practical knowledge about the contribution factors from their past experiences of people's position in life at age 25.

2. It is of particular interest that the lives of the individuals concerned in Belfast have been spent against a background of civil unrest and community conflict and it should be possible to establish to what extent this has been a determining factor for individual outcomes.

3. The individuals in Dublin live in areas of medium to high unemployment with associated social problems and it will be interesting to establish whether the cycle of deprivation is as impenetrable as some people think.

4. On one level it will be possible to identify specific socialisation and educational practices at age 12 which have had particularly constructive or perhaps negative effects for the individuals concerned. There would be implications for intervention and educational policies.

5. On another level we will have immediate impressions of training initiatives (Dublin and Belfast) and of cross-community perceptions (in Belfast) from people on the ground. We can link their past experiences and perhaps identify sources of discontent as well as of satisfaction.

6. On a third level, we can make links between past experiences and current attitudes for members of the three communities age 25.

7. On a fourth level, comparisons will be possible with a North American sample of similar age and samples from European Countries with varying experiences of democracy with whom parts of the same questionnaire are currently being used.

8. It will be possible to see whether factors identified in the earlier studies as differentiating the three groups can be linked with differential outcomes at age 17 and 25.

For example, interest in current affairs at age 12 and involvement in community development or interest in politics and understanding of the social contract at age 17 and 25;

9. Degree of independence, commitment, outreach at age 12 and tolerance towards the other community (for Belfast Cohorts), or community involvement at age 17 and 25.

10. How their view of the future compares with their view of the future aged 12 (when the 1981 children were more pessimistic than the 1992 children and in 1981, the Protestants were more pessimistic than the Catholics, and the Belfast children more pessimistic than the Dublin children) and how the two age groups compare at present.

11. Attitudes towards education, educational achievement, training opportunities and employment status from age 21-25 for members of the three communities.

Relevance for policy-making:

* The findings should give some indication of the effectiveness of the educational and training programmes in place for the 18-25 age group.
* The results should give pointers towards possible directions for the further development of activities designed to lead to good citizenship both at school level and for citizens in general.
* This information should in turn suggest ways in which remedial action might be effective.

Use of funding:

* The funding is providing finance for research support for the project. Ms Jenny Marks in Belfast and Ms Sharon Crowley in Dublin are working full-time on the project and assisting with tracking down subjects, with data collection, and with data coding and analysis. The funding is also covering the costs of printing, postage, etc and of travel expenses involved in administering the questionnaires. The project could not have been undertaken without PSEPII funding.

© CCRU 1998-1999
site developed by: Martin Melaugh
page last modified:
Back to the top of this page