Kenniscentrum Maatschappij en Recht

Heading towards a desirable future

aspirations, commitments and the capability to aspire of young Europeans


This essay focuses on the aspirations of young people, which we take to be a critical drive to their political and social commitments. As reflected in a wealth of social scientific research on educational and occupational aspirations of young people, the formulation of a desirable future is an important step in formal education and one’s preparation to enter the labour market. Yet, aspirations also matter in other spheres of social life. For example, young people may have aspirations that relate to the consumption of goods. The prospect of having a high purchasing power happens to impact school motivation. Additionally, active political participation may reflect the aspirations of some citizens with regards to a desirable future. Nowadays, aiming at achieving happiness is largely regarded as a universal, if not a basic right, applying to anyone, regardless of culture, ethnicity, social class, gender, age or sexual preference. However, young people obviously don’t all have the same aspirations. How do aspirations arise? What do we know about what shapes the aspirations of young Europeans? What makes young people capable of aspiration/what enables the aspiration of young people?

Reference Baillergeau, E., Duyvendak, J. W., & Abdallah, S. (2015). Heading towards a desirable future: aspirations, commitments and the capability to aspire of young Europeans. Open Citizenship, 5(2).
16 April 2015

Publication date

Apr 2015


Evelyne Baillergeau
Jan Willem Duyvendak


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