Taking the most recent wave of the BHPS Youth Questionnaire in which questions on conceptions of aspirations were asked – Wave Q (2007) – I’ve filtered the data to include only those respondents aged 14, 15 or 16 at the time of the fieldwork, in order to match the age range sampled in the intensive phase of my research. Using the geocodes I obtained through a Special Licence, I’ve linked each respondent to an LSOA and its corresponding Index of Multiple Deprivation Score, using the IMD from 2007. Given that the IMD only covers individuals in England, I was left with 189 young people aged 14, 15 or 16 with a deprivation score for their area.
I’ve started some basic analysis of how conceptions of aspirations vary between areas with different levels of deprivation. Given that the most significant finding from the intensive phase of my research was the prevalence of the material conception of aspirations among those young people with the dysfunctional conception of their area (which made the most explicit reference to its deprivation), I wanted to start my exploration of the BHPS data by examining the association between deprivation and aspirational materiality.
The relevant variable for representing materiality is QYPJBQD, which asks young people to assess the importance of a high income when it comes to choosing a job. Responses to this question are coded to a 4-category scale, from 1 ‘very important’ to 4 ‘unimportant’. To run a basic crosstabulation with IMD score I needed to recode the IMD scores in the data from a continuous to a categorical variable. A histogram of IMD scores revealed a distribution with a long positive skew and four fairly clear groupings, so I recoded IMD scores into a 4-category variable based on scores of 0-12 (the least deprived areas in the data), 13-24, 25-44 and 48-80 (the most deprived areas in the data).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, no young people responded that a high income was ‘unimportant’ (QYPJBQD=4), and a very small handful responded ‘not important’ (QYPJBQD=3), so pretty much all the variation in the materiality of young people’s conceptions of their aspirations is captured by QYPJBQD=1 ‘very important’ or 2 ‘important’. Running a crosstabulation with IMD score, there did seem to be a noticeable difference in the materiality of young people’s conceptions of their aspirations, with young people in more deprived areas having a more material conception of their aspirations:
I’ll need to do some more sophisticated analysis now – this is still exploratory stuff, but the data seems to be amenable to the sorts of questions I want to ask, which is encouraging.