Chasing the unreachable ‘university dream’: an active life course approach integrating chronopolitics

Rainbow Wing Yan Ng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


This paper applies an active life course approach to the context of self-financed Associate’s degree (AD) education in Hong Kong to explore the agency and precarities of youth navigating the transitional spaces of education. Based on 40 in-depth interviews, group discussions, participant observation, diary studies and grounded theories, I describe AD students’ loss of dignity, path dependency and experience of giving up on their dreams. I argue that these specific emotional/affective precarities are created by Hong Kong’s education system together with societal norms and expectations regarding education. However, by using and reworking their affective relations with others, young people can subvert these precarities to plot a new life course, seek agency and find meaning through integrating chronopolitics and the practices of care. The paper enriches understanding of the geographies of educational and youth precarities, emotion/affect, chronopolitics and the life course approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-621
Number of pages13
JournalChildren's Geographies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • caring
  • chronopolitics
  • Hong Kong
  • Life course
  • precarities
  • youth


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