Berlant’s notion of cruel optimism refers to investments in material structures, social norms, and ideological claims of being that work against individual and collective flourishing. Drawing on ethnographic and interview data spanning 2007–2016, this longitudinal study utilizes cruel optimism to explore material and affective investments of middle class Jordanian men into becoming educated, despite their acknowledgement that education delivers limited social mobility. Analyses of school-to-work transitions suggest Jordanian youth is confronting longer periods of transition, rather than indefinitely living in times of compromised possibility. However, a focus on ameliorating transitions and ‘mismatches’ in youth skills and expectations, does not adequately consider how shared understandings of the promise of education change over time, nor how uncertainties of transition become normalized as everyday life. Through participants’ life trajectories, this article examines youth modes of improvisation when ‘transitions’ persist indeterminately, and sanctioned means of future-building fail to deliver normative ideals of the present.
|Number of pages
|International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education
|Published - Mar 15 2020
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota.
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- critical educational studies