Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

The Role of Autonomy in the Transition to the World of Work

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Abstract:  The article is based on a qualitative study covering 32 youths from the age of 18 to 25 who did not manage a stable transition from school to the German labor market. All of them, albeit to different degrees and for different reasons, are running the risk of long‐term exclusion from the sphere of work and vocational training measures as well as public support structures. Based on multiple narrative interviews with the young persons participating in the study, qualitative case reconstructions were conducted concerning their social background, socialization, and how their biographies developed. This contribution specifically sheds light on the relevance of the genesis of autonomy for the individual transition into the world of work and further education. The findings are presented as risk factors hampering the genesis of autonomy in the process of socialization, namely, (a) dysfunctional parent–child relationship and (b) persistence of traditionalism. The findings point not only to the high relevance of autonomy for managing a stable transition but also imply that there are further factors leading to more disconnectedness in addition to a broad range of factors known from the existing literature. From our perspective, longer processes of socialization, i.e., subject formation processes, significantly contribute to a more nuanced understanding of this phenomenon.

Keywords:  autonomy; German education system; German labor market; school‐to‐work transition; socialization; vocational training; youths



© Jan F. C. Gellermann, Philipp Fuchs. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.