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Managing uncertainty of young people's transitions to adulthood in Bulgaria

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Author(s): Kovacheva Siyka

Journal: Sociologija
ISSN 0038-0318

Volume: 54;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 245;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: uncertainty | agency | youth transitions | social change | organizational policies and practices | individual strategies

ABSTRACT
The paper examines the strategies of young people in Bulgaria for responding to and dealing with uncertainty in the passage to autonomy. It focuses on the active engagement of the young in the processes of identity formation and gaining independence, thus initiating a change in the common patterns of growing up. The biographical choices that the young make are analysed as embedded in a multilayered social context involving the interplay of macro societal changes, shifts in organisational policies and practices and restructuring of gender and generational relations in the family. Theoretically this paper builds upon the concept of uncertainty in understanding the dilemma of structure and agency in youth transitions. The analysis is based upon official statistical information about economic and demographic trends in 21st century Bulgaria and the findings of an organisational case study of a social service agency and biographical interviews with young working parents, which were conducted within the framework of the international Transitions project. Two case studies of individual strategies of young women - one from a working class family and the other from an ethnic minority - are presented in more detail in order to examine the agency they apply in coping with uncertainty and the resources they mobilize in devising (everyday and short-term) life projects. The combination of quantitative and qualitative data allows a reflection on the process of managing uncertainty with regards to the past experiences, present meanings and future aspirations of young people as influenced by the contracting state support and contradictory company policies in Bulgaria.
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