ISSN : 0023-3900
Since the mid-1990s, a new breed of school dropout cases has appeared in South Korea. The number of students leaving school of their own volition has increased in defiance of the extremely competitive school culture that is uniformly focused on preparation for the college entrance examination. In general dropout youth are recognized as off-track individuals; these individuals, frequently labeled as troublemakers, are generally low academic achievers from low-class households. However, this new generation of dropout youth shows post-dropout learning and career trajectories that distinguish them from the earlier generation. Using a case study approach, this study aims to provide a foundation for better understanding of this new generation of dropout youth by examining their motivation to quit traditional school and their post-dropout life trajectories. In other words, this study examines what made these youth decide to quit traditional school, how they came to grips with the various structural and symbolic obstacles surrounding them, and what strategy they took for pioneering their path outside the system. By examining the positions of this new generation of dropout youth and the meaning they ascribe to choosing to drop out, this study provides possible implications for what direction school education should take in these changing times, not only in Korean society but also in other societies.
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