Young people's career aspirations have historically been robust predictors of their later educational and occupational attainment. Adolescents' aspirations— and expectations for their realization—are not mere personal motivations for particular career fields and lifestyles. Rather, the social worlds and opportunity structures that young people are engaged in can motivate, shape, and constrain these ambitions.

Socially Stratified Aspirations and Expectations

Historically, research has examined the degree to which social class background constrains occupational aspirations, expectations, and attainment. Emerging in the late 1950s, status attainment scholarship examines the determinants of movement between socioeconomic levels. Employing the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study of 10,317 primarily white male graduates from Wisconsin high schools, William Sewell, Robert Hauser, and their colleagues developed an influential model of status attainment that focuses on understanding the processes ...

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