In this thesis, I argue that studenthood is a distinct phase of the life course for many Canadian youth. I argue that just as childhood and adolescence became new life course categories during the 19th and 20th centuries, respectively, Studenthood has recently emerged as a distinct life stage and subjectivity. Through ethnographic research at three Metro Vancouver post-secondary institutions, I explore how the shared activities of post-secondary students, the common environments in which they act, and the social discourses and relations they engage in contribute to this demarcated period in the life course. Life course theory and the related concepts of tacking and vital conjunctures allow me to explore student navigational strategies. A tacking model assists in rethinking what is often perceived as adolescent indecisiveness encapsulated as liminality. I further suggest that higher education marketing fosters an environment of student fragility that necessitates numerous institutionally sanctioned stress-relief practices.
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Thesis advisor: Stern, Pamela
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