This paper discusses preliminary findings from a sub-set of empirical data collected for a recent NCVER study that explored the geographic dimensions of social exclusion in four locations in Victoria and South Australia with lower than average post school education participation. Set against the policy context of the Bradley Review (2008) and the drive to increase the post-school participation of young people from low socio-economic status neighbourhoods, this qualitative research study, responding to identified gaps in the literature, sought a nuanced understanding of how young people make decisions about their post-school pathways. Drawing on Appadurai’s (2004) concept ‘horizons of aspiration’ the paper explores the aspirations of two young people formed from, and within, their particular rural ‘neighborhoods’. The paper reveals how their post-school education and work choices, imagined futures and conceptions of a ‘good life’, have topographic and gendered influences that are important considerations for policy makers.
This paper presents the educational and research journey of a group of rural academics as a (con)textual fugue. We understand a fugue as a contrapuntal composition in which a short melody or phrase is introduced by one part and is successively taken up by other interweaving parts. Through weaving the multiple motivations and methodological underpinnings of the authors‟ individual research and education aspirations, a collective composition emerges. Our „fugue‟ represents the sum of the parts but it also challenges individualised conceptions of research and researcher identity. By conceptualising an assemblage of relational research presences and intentions for „disruptive transformations‟ in the rural context to which we are all deeply committed, we present another way of imagining or "seeing" research. Our „place‟ is Gippsland, Victoria, a distinctive and extensive area encompassing regional, rural and remote communities; diverse natural environments and localities; and correspondingly complex social, cultural and economic underpinnings. The establishment of Federation University in this setting, where the authors are situated, has precipitated what Mezirow might describe as a sudden, dramatic, reorienting insight and a reframing of habitual interpretations. Through coming together, we create a fresh impetus to pursue a collective but polyphonic purpose, impact and researcher identity.