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Communities that care: an insight into male career patterns in a small neighbourhoodThis study will offer an insight into the complex living of a group of mid-thirties males in a small neighbourhood and describe their personal career journeys. In particular, the study will highlight the complex influence of social capital, the men’s personal development through the ‘opportunity structure’ (K. Roberts, 1977) and how chance along with place of residence impact on career advancement. There have been numerous studies that have sought to discover why people make stereotypical career choices. More specifically, how male stereotyping can influence career choice and shape identity. However, many studies fail to tackle the influence of neighbourhood and family bonding which engulfs the male individual to create a very close knit masculine gang of individuals. By taking the epistemological position of interpretivism and using a narrative interview approach, along with a life history tradition, this research addresses these shortcomings. Additionally, Bourdieu’s (1985) concept of social field is employed within this study to represent the various social arenas in which young people spend their time. This notion of fields, along with the concepts of ‘habitus’ and ‘capital’ (Bourdieu, 1985, 1986) are seen to create an effective framework for understanding the social worlds of young people and the community in which they belong. The data is drawn from 10 in-depth interviews with men in their mid-thirties, who were born and raised in an inner city neighbourhood. Despite poverty, deprivation and social exclusion, these 10 men now have a career but choose not to leave the neighbourhood of their birth. They have each turned their life around by being confident, persistent, and determined to succeed, thereby empowering other individuals and their community, to build their own ladders out of poverty and towards a brighter future. However, this is a close knit network of friends and family that according to the headteacher in the local secondary school are ‘unwilling to move the boundaries of opportunity and rely too much on the ways of the past’. Each interviewee has a story to tell and these stories are interwoven and analysed through common themes explored in depth in the thesis. These stories map out a career trajectory that is based on rites of passage into adulthood and an adult sense of masculinity. Throughout the interviews evidence is provided to support the argument that ‘opportunity structure’ (K. Roberts, 1977) plays an important role in the career path of young people. Furthermore, it is argued that career choice is a developmental process with many twists and turns along the way. However, it is further argued that an identity based on age, location, ethnicity, along with common interests and a shared purpose, creates a closed shop ethos, where education and employment are shaped by elders within the family and close friends. In fact, because everyone knows everyone else, a strong common bond between family and friends is displayed, this creates strong loyalties which are manifested in the behaviour of each individual. This situation creates a large gang of individuals whose organisation has a hierarchical structure, starting from new entrants or recruits, through to elders at the top. Membership through birth is non-negotiable and to refuse to be part of this wider family could result in psychological and physiological consequences for the individual.