Much research has already been done on the aspirations of young people in lower (vocational) education. As a result, we have learnt more about why students may have high or low aspirations, and to what end their aspirations may lead them. However, there are still some crucial elements missing from the existing academic framework around pupils’ aspirations, which deals with the realization of pupils’ ambitions. Through the study of ethnographic cases of ‘white’ Dutch girls in a lower vocational school, voicing their aspirations, two concepts will be re-introduced: ‘reasons’ and ‘resources’. These concepts are based on the classical sociological theories of Giddens (1984) and Merton (1968). With these two additions, it is hoped that this article will contribute to the existing academic literature on pupils’ ambitions, and it also endeavors to provide useful input for school staff to help them deal with the complexity of the formation and realization of pupils’ aspirations in vocational schools.

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Department of Public Administration and Sociology (DPAS)

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