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What can research into graduate employability tell us about agency and structure?

Tholen, G. (2015). What can research into graduate employability tell us about agency and structure?. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 36(5), pp. 766-784. doi: 10.1080/01425692.2013.847782


Traditionally theorists who have written about agency and structure have eschewed empirical research. This article uses the findings of an empirical study into graduate employability to inform the sociological debate on how they relate to each other. The study examined how Dutch and British final-year students approach the labour market right before they graduate. The study revealed that the labour market and education structures are mirrored in how students understand and act within the labour market. It also showed that the interplay between agency and structure is mediated by an intersubjective framework shared by other students. The article argues that previous theoretical views on employability have failed to understand this and suggests how to improve our understanding of agency and structure.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: “This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in British Journal of Sociology of Education on 9 Dec 2013, available online:
Publisher Keywords: agency, structure, employability, intersubjectivity
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
SWORD Depositor:
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