Hattam, Robert and Smyth, John (2003) “Not everyone has a perfect life’: becoming somebody without school. Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 11 (3). pp. 379-398.

This article draws on the Students Completing Schooling Project, conducted in Australia, which has developed an account of early school leaving though listening to how 209 young people made sense of their experiences of leaving school. In this study, we were keen to understand the way young people deliberate upon how schooling fits into their plans for living a life: for ‘becoming somebody’. We propose understanding early school leaving as a tactical manoeuvre and part of the complex process of identity formation. Our interview material indicates that a powerful ‘interactive trouble’ contributes to the non-completion of school and involves underestimating the demands of private life, especially for those living in poverty.

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