Youth perspectives of achievement: is money everything?
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This article draws from a qualitative research project completed at Victoria High School (pseudonym) in Cape Town in 2012 which explored 13 learners’ perspectives of achievement and its influence on their lives and thinking. The piece problematises and analyses taken-for-granted connections between money, achievement, youth aspirations and views of employment (Opsahl & Dunnette, 1966). The article builds on McClelland’s (1967: 10) view that “money isn’t everything,” that money is a motivator for some, yet often inconsequential for others, and that its meaning mostly lies “in the eye of the beholder”. In light of this view, the articles discusses the perspectives of four learners at Victoria High to illustrate how they approached achievement, aspiration and materiality according to the different social standings and worlds that they inhabited. It was found that the expressed views of achievement by learners went beyond stereotypical and measurable attitudes and connected in quite complex ways with how they imagined their futures. The learners approached the notion of achievement in developmental, cumulative, and progressive ways. An interpretive qualitative paradigm using the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Arjun Appadurai was employed to highlight how the youth’s various capitals and aspirations respectively influenced their notions of achievement.