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Rationality in educational choice: A study on decision-making and risk-taking in academic settings
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Choices made in highly uncertain settings problematise the concept of rationality in decisions-making. Notably, educational choices are conducted on uncertain ground as future prospects in labour markets are always risky. Educational choices should also correspond to values of self-actualisation – derived from ideologies of High modernity (individualisation) –which in turn makes the decision even harder. Many studies have researched risk-taking and economic risk assessments in educational choices. Studies have also shown the effects of individualisation and capitalisation in modern societies. However, few studies on education take both economic and self-developing values into consideration, and even fewer examine the rationality in self-actualisation. This dissertation analyses rationality derived from social circumstances – in this case academia – in order to explain how students make their educational decisions and how they are affected by academic settings during their studies. To investigate this, a survey was constructed and sent to students. Statistical (correlation; group comparisons) and qualitative content analysis was used to interpret the data. The findings suggest that rationality in educational decisions mainly derives from self-interest, but also that academic settings promote this approach. This implicates that uncertainty is dealt with in social environments, and that rationality is essentially a social construction built and harboured within institutional settings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 74 p.
Keyword [en]
Risk-taking, rational choice, academia, individualisation, imagined futures
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-298200OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-298200DiVA: diva2:945136
Educational program
Master Programme in Social Sciences
Available from: 2016-07-01 Created: 2016-06-30 Last updated: 2016-07-01Bibliographically approved

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