The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Investing in the self: structure, agency and identity in graduates' employability

Tomlinson, Michael (2010) Investing in the self: structure, agency and identity in graduates' employability Education, Knowledge and Economy, 4, (2), pp. 73-88. (doi:10.1080/17496896.2010.499273).

Record type: Article


This article presents an alternative approach to the dominant analysis of graduate employability, through a consideration of the dynamic and socially mediated interaction that graduates have with labour market. This interaction is largely constitutive of their dispositions and identities as graduates, and entails a dynamic interplay between graduates' agency and the wider structural context of the labour market. Informed by structuration theory, this perspective offers a richer, more socially nuanced account into employability than that presented by dominant policy-based approaches, namely the human capital and ‘skills’ agenda. Such approaches present a largely de-contextualised account of employability and a somewhat simplistic notion of the link between education and the labour market more generally. In this article, we argue that employability must be seen as an active social process, and that this process is mediated significantly by the way graduates position themselves, and are positioned, within a continually shifting labour market context.

Other Investing_in_the_Self_EKE.docx - Author's Original
Download (70kB)

More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 15 December 2010
Published date: 2010
Keywords: employability, human capital, skills, agency, identity
Organisations: Southampton Education School


Local EPrints ID: 199935
ISSN: 1749-6896
PURE UUID: c43ef3d6-c17d-4e4e-9fe5-ca6e78b4d10b

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 20 Oct 2011 16:15
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:15

Export record



University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.