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Possible selves: students orientating themselves towards the future through extracurricular activity

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This paper explores the under‐researched area of extracurricular activity undertaken by students through the lens of the possible selves literature, which has largely been developed in the North American context. In the UK the employability agenda assumes an orientation towards the future and employers are increasingly expecting students to display capacities beyond those of simply achieving a degree. Extracurricular activity is one site where students might be able to develop these additional capacities towards their future imagined selves. Our case study, based on in‐depth interviews with 61 students, found different orientations towards the future, with only some displaying future selves attuned to employability. Other students were more firmly orientated to the present and developing student identities or unable to elaborate or act on imaged futures because of the contingencies of the present. We conclude that paying attention to differing temporalities and to the insights derived from the possible selves literature are likely to be fruitful for further research on extracurricular activity.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Leeds Metropolitan University, UK

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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