Critical studies of young people in education

This presentation documents the emergence of a research group interested in a new research agenda on connectedness and belonging to advance knowledge and practice in the sociology of young people and the field of Youth Studies.

Over recent decades the substantive foci of education sociology in the multi-disciplinary field of youth studies has coalesced around specific social theories, such as risk and resilience, or specific social conditions that shape young people’s lives, such as leisure cultures, educational decisions and labour market conditions. Such substantive and theoretical foci have value; however, the intellectual potential of the sociology of young people is limited by its balkanisation into sub-areas, and focus on the deficits and problems of contemporary youth.

This presentation focuses on the substantive research problem of analysing the micro-level experiences, perspectives and lives of individual and groups of young people, and how these intersect with broader social conditions and structures to shape young people’s social, political and educational engagement and agency. It focuses specifically on how these intersections enable or impede connectedness, belonging and engagement in social, political and educational sites. In tackling this research problem, we utilise a critical, post-positivist, feminist epistemology and a modus operandi grounded in the creative deployment of qualitative approaches at the individual, group and social levels, including interviews and life-history methods, cultural research, and methods for social, political and educational action, such as photovoice, drama groups and visual research.