The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Youth Research Group

Scope

A well-established research strength across the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology focuses on the everyday lives, experiences and aspirations of children and young people. The interdisciplinary focus of the School is such that we bring a range of different disciplinary perspectives to our work with young people including: political science, social and cultural geography, social anthropology and sociology.

Within this, our work contributes to – and draws upon – debates in:

  • childhood studies
  • children’s geographies
  • youth studies
  • sociology of education

Our Youth Research Group includes the work of a number of academic staff across the three main subject areas of the School:

Geography: Matthew Benwell, Peter Hopkins, Anoop Nayak, Michael Richardson

Politics: William Maloney, Emily Rainsford

Sociology: Emma Clavering, Rob Hollands, Janice McLaughlin, Adel Pasztor, Sarah Winkler-Reid

Themes

Youth transitions and subcultures

A significant focus of our work with young people draws attention to the changing nature of youth transitions and youth subcultures. We explore a diversity of transitions that young people encounter in the making of modern adulthood and how these transitions are shaped by education, employment, family, religion, citizenship and global media. Our research here tends to focus upon young people’s transitions from or through education to employment or their leisure transitions. We focus upon the nature and characteristics of these transitions, how, why and in what ways they are changing, and the relationship between research about youth transitions and youth subcultures.

Young people and social inequalities

A key focus of our work with children and young people is about the complexity of the inequalities they experience, how these manifest in their everyday lives, and how young people show agency and creativity in working through, resisting and remaking their lives despite such inequalities. Our research here is concerned with a diversity of inequalities - whether this be about disability, body size, gender, sexuality, health, social class, race and ethnicity or religion and belief – and how these intersect with and shape each other. We focus upon how such inequalities are embodied, lived out in the home and in educational settings and how they shape and are shaped by transformations in national youth policy and practice. 

Young people, (geo)politics and participation

An important part of our research with young people is about their engagements with (geo)politics, the contestations associated with their citizenship, and how they engage (or not) with political issues. In our work, we are interested in young people’s engagements with both formal and informal politics. One the one hand, our work focuses on young people’s voting patterns, their participation in elections and their engagement with national and global politics; one the other hand, we also focus upon issues of everyday citizenship, youth activism and the ways in which political matters enter into the everyday spaces of young people’s lives.

Methodological Partnerships with Young People

Reflecting broader debates about politically and culturally appropriate ways to involve young people in research about their lives, we have a recognised interest in pursuing research practices that enable partnership and build upon approaches to participatory research. This includes strategies that enable young people to have input into research design and practice, as well as developing research approaches that can challenge power relationships and generate different kinds of data and outputs. At the same time we avoid developmental understandings of childhood and young people that sometimes find themselves present in assumptions about what methods work best with particular groups of young people.