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Global Youth


An interdisciplinary research centre that examines what it means to grow up in a global world


Coastal Youth Life Chances project: Information for Participants

By UCL Global Youth, on 9 August 2023

What is this project about? The project, organised by researchers at University College London (UCL), is about young people in coastal towns. We’re asking young people aged 15-20 what it’s like to grow up in your town today, and people aged 60+ what it was like growing up here in the past. Some of the topics we are interested in are: What do you think about your town? What kinds of opportunities does your town offer young people? What are the challenges? What would you change about your town for young people?

Using the answers you provide, we will consider whether growing up in a coastal town can impact on young people’s life chances; that is, their likelihood of having good outcomes in adulthood in terms of education, work, housing, and health and wellbeing.

Who is funding this project? This project is funded by the UKRI Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This project has been approved by the UCL Institute of Education Ethics Committee (REC 1553).

How can I take part in the project? If you agree to take part in the study, we will arrange a date/time for you to take part in a group workshop and/or an interview. We will also invite you to share a photo with us that represents what it’s like to grow up in a coastal town. The interviews will last about 30 – 45 minutes and the group workshop will be 2 hours long. If you agree, we would like to record our conversation (audio only for interviews, video for group discussions). These recordings are only used to make sure that we have an accurate account of what you told us; they will not be seen by anyone outside of the research team.

Your participation is voluntary: this means you do not have to take part in this project if you don’t want to and you can stop participating in the project at any time. You don’t have to answer any questions or take part in any activities that make you uncomfortable; if you don’t like the question or the activity, we can move on or stop the interview. If you later want to stop participating in the project, you can withdraw at any time by contacting Sam Whewall (s.whewall@ucl.ac.uk) or Avril Keating (a.keating@ucl.ac.uk).

If I agree to take part, what will happen to the information I give you? The information you give us will be used for research purposes only. This means we will share the information with our UCL project colleagues and our project partners, the Museum of Youth Culture and the LivingMaps Network. The information you give us will then be combined with information we get from other people we speak to for this project, and then used to write reports, blogs, journal articles, books or create photo exhibitions about growing up in coastal towns. These publications will be available to the public and to policymakers.

All data will be stored securely on UCL servers, and your personal information will be stored separately. Any data we collect from you (e.g. photos or maps) will be kept for a maximum of 10 years and deleted by 31st December 2035 at the latest.

Is the information I give confidential? All the personal information you provide is treated confidentially in accordance with the UK Data Protection Act 2018. There is more information on the next page about what this means and how we keep this promise. In short, this means that we will not share your personal information with anyone outside of the project team. We will make sure that your answers will be stored securely on a computer and kept separate from any personal details you give us. The only exception to this is if you share information that raises concerns about your safety or someone else’s safety. If this happens, we will have to pass this on to an appropriate adult (e.g. a teacher at your school or a youth worker at your youth club).

Is the information I give you anonymous? Your name real will not be used in any publications (e.g. books or blogs), and we will do our very best to remove any personal details so that no one will be able to identify you. However, if you share any photos with us, we would like to include these photos in creative exhibitions that will take place online (on the Museum of Youth Culture website) and in your local community. If you agree, we would like include your name, your age, and the name of your town alongside the photos you give us.

How do I stay informed about the project? We will post regular updates about this project on this Blog site and on Twitter (@uclglobalyouth). In addition, when we meet you we will ask you if you would like us to send you updates about the project findings via email. If you agree, we will send you updates once a year.

More questions? If you have any questions about the project, contact Sam Whewall (s.whewall@ucl.ac.uk) or the Project Leader, Avril Keating (a.keating@ucl.ac.uk) at University College London.

If you have any concerns about how your data is being used, you can contact the UCL Institute of Education Research Ethics Committee on ioe.researchethics@ucl.ac.uk or +44 (0)20 7911 5449.  Alternatively, you can contact UCL by emailing dataprotection@ucl.ac.uk, telephoning 020 7679 2000 or by writing to: University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT. The data protection registration number for this project is: Z6364106/2021/09/62.

Growing up in coastal towns: Emerging Findings Report

By UCL Global Youth, on 14 November 2022

Post by Dr. Avril Keating, Director, Centre for Global Youth

A team of researchers from UCL, Young Advisors, and Youth Action are today launching a report of their findings about growing up in coastal towns.

Over the last two years we have been conducting exploratory research in North East Lincolnshire. Building on our earlier research in Margate, we examined how growing up in coastal towns shapes young people’s experiences, aspirations, and life chances. We focused in particular on two towns in the area: Grimsby (a post-industrial town) and Cleethorpes (a seaside town).

Our collaboration with Young Advisors (a national charity) and Youth Action (based in North East Lincolnshire) led to 6 members of Young Action joining our team as Young Researchers. Together, we developed a range of place-based methods of data production and piloted these through a series of research activities, including focus groups, walking interviews, and in-depth interviews. We included the views of both young people and older people who grew up in the 1950s and 60s, to take a look at how coastal youth life chances have changed over the generations.

We generated a rich body of data from these research encounters, and we are preparing a number of publications to share these findings. Today, we are pleased to announce the publication of our Emerging Findings report, which sets out our preliminary thoughts and findings.

One clear message from the report is that young people in North East Lincolnshire feel that there are not enough things for them to do, or places for them to go. These feelings of boredom and exclusion are compounded by (1) their sense that their towns are in economic decline and (2) the fact that there are too many places in the towns that do not feel safe.

A second key finding is that many of the young participants felt that they have to move away from the area in order to access higher education and/ or high-skilled work. Data from the older residents helped us to understand that this mobility imperative is relatively new. They told us that when they were growing up, there were far more (and better) employment and leisure opportunities for young people in the area.

You can find out more about our projects and our findings in our new report Growing up in coastal towns – emerging findings (2022).  This report benefited from the input of a wide range of collaborators. We want to thank:

  • the Young Researchers that collaborated with us on this project
  • the residents of North East Lincolnshire who took part in this research, for generously sharing their experiences and views with us.
  • the organisations and agencies in North East Lincolnshire who helped make this co-produced project happen (particularly: Emma Lingard, Associated British Ports; Grimsby Town Hall; ABP Archives and North East Lincolnshire Archives Team; and the school, community and youth groups who very kindly hosted our focus groups (we will not name them to maintain confidentiality of participants).
  • the members of our Advisory Group who shared their time and expertise to help guide us with Phase 2 of the project (Joanne Lee from Young Advisors; and Professors Anna Tarrant, Carenza Lewis, and Mark Gussy from University of Lincoln); and
  • our funders: the UCL IOE Strategic Investment Board, UCL Grand Challenges and the UCL Pro-Vice-Provost (UK).

To cite this report: Benchekroun, R., Keating, A., Cameron, C. and Curtin, P. (2022) Growing up in coastal towns – emerging findings (2022). Published online: https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/global-youth/

Opportunities, aspirations and mobilities for coastal youth: emerging findings

By UCL Global Youth, on 11 November 2022

By Rachel Benchekroun, Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU) UCL Social Research Institute

Whilst living on the coast may offer certain advantages, research shows that young people in coastal communities face poorer outcomes in education, employment and health than their peers in non-coastal towns (CMO 2021, HOL 2019, Agarwal et al. 2018, Wenham 2020). But how do young people feel about their coastal towns and their futures?

Photo of beach in NE Lincolnshire

Image 1: Beach in NE Lincolnshire

We worked with young people from Grimsby and Cleethorpes to research this further. Six Young Researchers co-designed the research, interviewed residents, and helped analyse the data. Throughout the process, the Young Researchers were also supported by Pippa Curtin (the Voice and Influence Co-ordinator, North East Lincolnshire Council) and local lead for Young Advisors. Together we’ve been discovering how young people feel about their towns, their views on the opportunities available to them, and their aspirations for themselves and their towns.

Across two linked projects in 2021 and 2022, we carried out interviews and focus groups with a total of 39 young people aged 16 to 25. We also interviewed 30 older people aged over 60 to compare their experiences of growing up in the local area in earlier decades. We used participatory methods such as mapping, photo elicitation, life maps and a community walk.

Here is what we found out about young people’s perceptions and aspirations.

Move, return or stay?

Most of the 16- to 18-year-olds we interviewed felt they needed to move away to a larger town or city to access higher education, develop specialized knowledge and skills, and find a well-paid job: ‘The jobs that we want to do, we can’t really do here.’

This was especially important to young people considering professions – such as law, medicine or academic research – as well as roles in the creative sector. We refer to this group as ‘movers’.

For young people like 17-year-old Alex, the lack of local opportunities for certain kinds of career, and the relative geographical isolation of Grimsby and Cleethorpes, meant they would need to move to a bigger town or city:

‘You’ve got to go into the city, specifically London, to be able to participate in [specialised] jobs. And that is something we are lacking as a coastal town, kind of on the edge of everything. We are too far away from London – which I think is such a disadvantage.’

Image of ‘Future life map’ created by Katy, aged 17

Image 2: ‘Future life map’ created by Katy, aged 17

Many young people saw moving to a city as the only way to achieve their personal and professional goals. Some even planned to move abroad to develop their careers. This can be seen in the ‘future life map’ created by Katy, aged 17 (see Image 2).

Several young people were clear that once they moved away, they would not return to their coastal town: (‘I can confidently say that I don’t wanna come back.’). For a small number, however, moving away was necessary only to develop skills that they intended to bring back for the benefit of the community, for example in the role of youth worker or teacher. This group, whom we refer to as ‘returners’, seemed to be motivated by values of social justice. For example, Kayla (18), told us:

‘I just want to help the youth of Grimsby and to show that no matter where you’re from or no matter what background, you can always make something of your life and do amazing things. […] We shouldn’t have less opportunities just because we’re at this end of the country or just because we’re in this postcode, do you know what I mean? We all deserve the same opportunities, not just the bigger cities.’

A third group of young participants (‘stayers’) were those who did not plan to move away, whether temporarily or permanently. Several, like Lisa (18), had actively decided to stay:

‘I think I like living here, and I just don’t think I really want to move away and be that far away from my family. I feel like there’s what I need here to like progress with my life rather than moving away.’

For these young people, maintaining regular contact with their family and other support networks was important, and they felt they could achieve their education and career plans locally.

Other young people were vague about their future plans – perhaps because of uncertainty about whether to continue with post-compulsory education, what kind of job or career they hoped to do, or what the pathway to achieving this looked like.

Our research has shown that experiences of growing up in Grimsby and Cleethorpes have changed significantly since the 1950s and 1960s. When older residents were teenagers, there had been plenty of local well-paid work for school-leavers, so the majority of young people stayed in the local area – and felt a strong sense of belonging. But changes to the local economy in recent decades mean that local jobs for young people nowadays are more likely to be precarious and low paid. The marginal location of coastal towns, limited transport networks and the availability of resources, including support networks, intersect with the realities of the local economy to shape young people’s decisions about whether to move away, return, or stay put. This has implications both for the futures of young people and the future of their coastal communities.

This research was funded by UCL IOE Seed Funding, UCL Grand Challenges and the Pro-Vice Provost (UK). These findings are taken from our forthcoming Emerging Findings report, which will be published next week.



New ESRC funded project: The impact of coastal towns on young people’s life chances across the lifecourse

By UCL Global Youth, on 29 September 2022

We are pleased to announce that we have received funding from the ESRC to expand our research on young people living in coastal towns. Starting in January 2023, our Director (Avril Keating) will work together with Professor Claire Cameron, Dr Stephen Jivraj and Dr Emily Murray to conduct a 3 year, mixed method study of young lives in coastal towns.

What is the new study about?    This larger project examines the ways in which growing up in a coastal town can impact on young people’s life chances; that is, their likelihood of having good outcomes in adulthood in terms of education, work, housing, and health and wellbeing. We focus on coastal towns as some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the UK are now in coastal areas. Coastal towns have attracted a lot of attention in recent UK policy debates, and these discussions often raise concerns about the future of young people in these towns, largely because of the limited educational and employment opportunities. Despite this, there is very little research on the impact of growing up in a coastal town on young people’s experiences, attitudes, or life chances. This project will address this gap by looking at the spatial inequalities in life chances experienced by contemporary coastal youth, as well as change over the life course (as these young people get older) and change over time (ie: intergenerational differences in experiences and outcomes).

Our research questions:   More specifically, this project will address four key questions:

  1. (a) Does growing up in coastal towns, compared to similarly deprived areas in England and Wales, impact on the life chances of young people? (b) Do these inequalities in life chances persist over the life course or narrow in later age?
  2. What are the environmental mechanisms linking growing up in a coastal town to adverse life chances in adulthood?
  3. What personal attributes or experiences can help mitigate the initial drawback of growing up in a coastal town (e.g. parental support, residential mobility, or aspiration)?
  4. What interventions could improve the life chances of young people in coastal communities, based (a) on the results of quasi-experimental quantitative methods and (b) on coastal residents’ own views?

Our research methods:   We will address these questions using a combination of quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative analysis draws on longitudinal survey data from three different generations that allow us to compare the outcomes of adolescents from the 1970s, the 1980s and the 2000s. These cohort studies enable us to consider: change over the life course (as respondents grow up and move into later adulthood); change over time (inter-generational differences); and changes in geography (intra-generational differences between coastal and non-coastal youth). We can also use these data to test potential policy solutions by applying quasi-experimental quantitative methods.

The project also includes a qualitative strand that will produce original data with current residents of coastal towns. In 6 coastal towns in England and Wales we will talk to younger and older residents about their experiences of growing up in coastal towns and their views about the opportunities and aspirations for young people in the town. Residents will also be asked for their views of what their town needs to do to improve the life chances of young people. Change over time will be further examined by comparing youth aspirations from today with those compiled in the NCDS 1969 archive of student essays.

Part of this strand will be completed using co-production methods that involve recruiting, training, and supporting young people to become Young Researchers in their community. We will also use arts-and place-based methods such as postcard-making, walking interviews, life maps and ethnocartographic methods. For these activities, we will partner with Young Advisors and LivingMaps Network.

Planned impact and outputs:   The findings from these analyses will bring new insights to academic debates as well as new policy proposals for public discussions about place-based disparities in health, wellbeing, employment, and education. Our findings will thus contribute to recent discussions about Levelling Up and addressing regional inequalities (HM Govt, 2022) as well as longer-standing discussions about equal opportunities to life chances (Field, 2010) and health inequalities (CMO, 2021). While various reports have identified the areas of concern, few advanced analyses or youth-focused solutions have been offered, and we expect that this project can contribute to filling these gaps. Local policymakers and practitioners will also benefit from a deeper understanding of how their younger and older residents view their town currently, and how they wish their town to develop in the future.

Find out more about our pilot projects: This new project builds on two pilot projects that we conducted in 2021 (funded by IOE SIB Seed Funding) and 2022 (funded by UCL Grand Challenges). To find out more about these pilots, check out our previous blog posts:


Intergenerational perspectives on growing up in coastal towns: a new project on coastal youth experiences

By UCL Global Youth, on 8 April 2022

By Rachel Benchekroun (Research Assistant, TCRU/CGY) and Pippa Curtin (Voice and influence co-ordinator, North East Lincolnshire Council)

Living in a coastal town in the UK offers unique opportunities, but research shows there are increased risks of poor outcomes in health, education and employment (CMO 2021, HOL 2019, Agarwal et al. 2018). Geographical isolation, limited transport networks and the decline of fishing and heavy industries since the 1970s have been key factors.

Our new project builds on earlier work led by Dr Avril Keating (Centre for Global Youth) with young people in Grimsby and Cleethorpes, and asks about growing up in coastal towns today compared with earlier, more prosperous, eras. We are co-producing the new study with young people and community groups, bringing together residents of different generations to explore their experiences of growing up in North East Lincolnshire. How has life changed in their coastal towns since the postwar ‘boom’ years, and how has this shaped young people’s experiences of growing up? What do residents of different generations see as the challenges for young people in coastal towns, and how might these be overcome?

Co-producing knowledge

We will also explore how co-production methodologies can facilitate intergenerational dialogue on these issues, and we’ll seek to develop shared understandings. UCL researchers, national organisation Young Advisors and NE Lincolnshire Council are excited to develop our collaborative work. This month, we’re training a group of young people as young researchers. Through a series of workshops, we’re working together to design and carry out research with young and older residents.

As a team, we’re developing innovative participatory methods, including community events to host group discussions, in-depth one-to-one interviews using potographic and mapping methods, and walking tours of Grimsby and Cleethorpes. Walking tours will offer opportunities not only for learning about local heritage, but also for finding out about future developments and sharing visions and aspirations. We aim to capture participants’ stories, reflections and ideas by recording conversations and taking photographs during our walks.

We’ll bring participants together to discuss and debate the challenges young people face growing up in coastal towns, and to share ideas for how these should be tackled. Together, we’ll make a plan to share our findings with local and regional stakeholders, such as the Greater Grimsby Board (responsible for overseeing the Grimsby Masterplan), decision-makers from NE Lincs Children’s Services and Adults’ Services, and the Coastal Communities Alliance. Our young researchers will play a key role in sharing findings from this research project. We want to ensure that policymakers are taking account of young people’s views in shaping the future of their towns.

Project partners and funders

Thomas Coram Research Unit, part of UCL Social Research Institute, is delighted to have been awarded funding for this project by UCL Grand Challenges Special Initiatives (under the ‘Intergenerational Dynamics’ theme), as well as additional funding from the Office of the Pro-Vice-Provost (UK). The funding will enable us to build relationships with a range of partners, including researchers at the University of Lincoln. Led by Prof Claire Cameron, and supported by Niccola Hutchinson-Pascal of the Co-Production Collective, we’ve started sharing ideas about co-production with Dr Anna Tarrant and Debbie Taylor of the Grimsby Dads Collective, participatory heritage projects with Prof Carenza Lewis, and heath inequalities in rural areas with Prof Mark Gussy. We’re keen to build on existing partnerships and look forward to developing new partnerships with local and national arts, heritage and community organisations and employers interested in our research topic, including Onside (currently developing Grimsby’s new Horizon Youth Zone centre) and Associated British Ports. This project will run from March – 31 October 2022.

Researching with young people in coastal towns: What have we learned about co-production with young people?

By UCL Global Youth, on 10 March 2022

Guest post by Dr Rachel Benchekroun (UCL IOE) and Pippa Curtin (Voice and Influence Co-Ordinator, Young Advisors, North East Lincolnshire Council)

What did we set out to achieve?

Coastal towns present unique challenges and opportunities for their young residents. The aim of the co-production strand of our recent research project was to work with young researchers to explore how growing up in a coastal town shapes young people’s aspirations, how they feel about their coastal town, and how they think it can be improved. Following a pilot project in Margate, project lead Avril Keating and research assistant Rachel Benchekroun at UCL wanted to work with a group of young people in North East Lincolnshire to enable them, as young researchers, to interview their peers and older people to find out more. We wanted to work together to develop innovative arts-based and place-based methods to use in the interviews. Image of pier in a seaside town

Our existing relationship with national organisation Young Advisors was a strong base for developing a partnership with Young Advisors in North East Lincolnshire, led by Pippa Curtin, the NE Lincs Voice and Influence Coordinator. This project was an exciting opportunity for the Young Advisors in NE Lincolnshire to get involved in a national project on behalf of their organisation. Using their skills, knowledge and contacts, the young people were keen to gain insights into past and present experiences of what it’s like to grow up in a coastal community. They would also have the opportunity to advise on the use of peer research methods and develop new research skills. Not least, it was a chance to work with a university to showcase their local area and the voices of young people.

What did we achieve?

Through regular communication and positive collaboration, a strong partnership was developed between Young Advisors as a national organisation, the NE Lincolnshire team and the UCL researchers. The Young Advisors tested out the interactive methods as participants, and made significant contributions to their design before conducting their own interviews. They developed new strategies along the way, drawing on their experiences to shape the research project, and worked with Rachel to review the methods as the fieldwork progressed. Young Advisors’ innovations included trying out the interactive methods with older interviewees as well as peers; interviewing a couple in a paired interview, rather than one-to-one; and helping a young interviewee feel more comfortable with the interactive methods by engaging in the activities in parallel.

Through interviews and reflective workshops, the Young Advisors shared with Rachel their knowledge of their coastal community, and their views of the opportunities and challenges, and what they would change. They also drew on their personal networks to recruit and interview peers and older people, enabling young and older residents from a range of backgrounds to share their reflections and ideas about their local area with a view to informing future developments in the area. The data the Young Advisors generated through their dual roles as participants and researchers were invaluable in helping to address the project’s research questions.

What have we learned about co-production?

There was significant learning for all of us. The Young Advisors enjoyed finding out about their interviewees’ views of their town, identifying patterns and differences in responses:

I liked how you can see how people’s views are very similar even if they grew up on different sides of the town […] but then also very different as well.

The best thing was just hearing different views [from] old people experiencing different things to us.

Although experienced in carrying out consultations in their town, this was the Young Advisors’ first experience of undertaking social research for a project with a university. Through a combination of training workshops, first-hand experience and reflective group sessions, the Young Advisors learned about research ethics and the practical challenges of planning and undertaking fieldwork. Over the duration of the fieldwork, the Young Advisors developed their confidence and skills in building rapport with their interviewees, following the interview schedule, and simultaneously being sensitive to the natural flow of the conversation and responding with effective ‘prompt’ questions. These research skills and wider interpersonal skills are likely to be an asset in the Young Advisors’ future work and education opportunities.

What were the challenges and how did we address them?

Finding a balance between the requirements of a university-initiated research project and the needs of the Young Advisors was an ongoing challenge. For example, university requirements for us to use comprehensive information sheets and consent forms to obtain informed consent – necessary for ethical approval – meant that, despite our best efforts, these documents were wordy and long. This created problems for the Young Advisors, both as participants and as researchers having to explain terminology to their interviewees. Sometimes the consequences were counter-productive: “with the consent form […] my young person just did yes for everything. They didn’t even read the question. It was yes, yes, yes.”

Another university requirement was to provide details of our planned research methods in order to obtain ethical approval before starting the fieldwork. As with the informed consent process, this is normal in the academic world, but for us this approach had to be balanced with the need to be open to the Young Advisors’ ideas and suggestions – an important aspect of co-production.

Further challenges encountered by the Young Advisors included an initial lack of familiarity with the interview schedules and difficulty finding suitable times and locations for interviews (resulting in some interviews being cut short). Ill health posed a challenge in recruiting Young Advisors, especially given the context of the pandemic, although Pippa was able to bring other team members on board. Tight timescales made it difficult for Young Advisors to arrange interviews with all of their potential participants. Working in partnership with clear and regular communication between UCL, the Young Advisors team lead and the young people themselves helped to manage the timescales. Covid-19 restrictions and the young people’s other commitments made it difficult at times for everyone to meet up in the same room, but when this was not possible, hybrid meetings were held using online platforms.

 How will our learning about co-production shape our co-produced research in the future? 

The project highlighted how essential the ‘behind-the-scenes’ support from Young Advisors NE Lincolnshire was at all stages of the project. As well as providing invaluable information about the local area, Pippa and her colleague played a vital role in organising the meetings, liaising with the Young Advisors, providing all kinds of support and advice, suggesting solutions and general troubleshooting! Without this support and regular communication, the project would not have been possible.

Moving forward into the next iteration of the project, we want to centre the values of co-production. We’ll engage with the Young Advisors by finding out about their hopes and expectations, prioritising an approach of ‘working with’ rather than what will generate the best data. We also want to make our research more accessible at all stages and for everyone – and we believe we can do this by thinking in a young person-centred way.

As part of this, we plan to review the information sheet and consent form with the university ethics panel to find ways to make these shorter, simpler and more accessible, without losing essential content. We also intend to make the workshops more interactive, building on Young Advisors’ existing skills and experience, and will be open to doing things differently. We want to build in more time for the Young Advisors to develop and pilot innovative interactive methods, role play the interviews, and reflect deeply on what works and what they would change. We’ll make every effort to run all of the workshops in person, to help build strong relationships. In the next iteration of the project, we will benefit from peer learning by bringing together new participants with Young Advisors who were involved as researchers in the earlier project.

We’ll allow more time for fieldwork, ideally including both term-time and school/college holidays to maximise opportunities to organise interviews. Rather than putting the onus on the Young Advisors to find suitable locations for interviews, we’ll provide quiet, safe spaces in a public or community building for them to use. We’ll make sure that one or both of us will be on site to provide support and advice as needed, and to check in with each Young Advisor after each interview, to reflect together on what went well and what might work better next time.

We’ll also plan more reflective group sessions both during the fieldwork stage and afterwards, to ensure the Young Advisors are fully involved in analysis of the data, planning and developing accessible and interactive research outputs, and sharing key findings locally, regionally and nationally. We want to make sure that any promotional materials and reports produced are young person-friendly in their presentation and language by asking Young Advisors from the marketing team to design them. We want to ensure the Young Advisors are front and centre in taking the findings to policymakers and other stakeholders. It will be important for the Young Advisors – and their interviewees – to see the impact of the research.

Implementing this learning will help us ensure that young people are at the heart of decision making and helping to change their community – in accordance with the principles of the Young Advisors movement. It will also help us to build an even stronger partnership between Young Advisors and UCL, and produce high quality research which will shape policy and practice at local and national levels.

Adolescence and Belonging in Medieval Europe, c.1000–c.1250: A new British Academy Project

By UCL Global Youth, on 11 November 2021

Guest post by Dr Emily Ward, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of History at UCL

The two and a half centuries between c.1000 and c.1250 were years of religious, socio-economic, legal and political change across the European continent. Many of these changes directly affected the lives of young people. Expanding urban centres brought increasing opportunities for work, education and social activities. New monastic orders turned to adolescents and youths to invest in their vision and participate in their efforts. The introduction of greater definition and additional restrictions around inheritance, wardship and legal majority altered aspects of rites of passage. My current project, funded by the British Academy (PF20\100057), seeks to illuminate how adolescents navigated the transition to adulthood at this time of wider societal change across medieval Europe. I adopt a comparative methodology to examine the experiences of young men roughly aged between twelve and twenty-five across four different environments: knightly (young squires and knights), monastic (adolescent novices), urban (students and apprentices) and clerical (non-monastic religious).

Pairing adolescence with the politicized concept of belonging draws attention to the impact of change on young people from different backgrounds and social statuses. That adolescence is culturally and socially constructed will hardly be news to those reading the Centre for Global Youth’s blog, but the historical significance of this stage of life is perhaps less widely appreciated. Adolescence is still viewed as something of a modern ‘phenomenon’ even though, both today and in the past, these are years which are pivotal to understanding how belonging is ‘constructed across one’s lifespan’ (Lähdesmäki et al., 2016).

Across the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries, adolescence was recognised as a crucial time for forming social bonds, moulding expectations of conduct, determining personality and influencing moral development. During these years, young people often learnt, developed and practiced the customs and skills deemed appropriate to their place in society. Tensions between familial expectations and an individual’s personal will can be brought into sharper focus during adolescence, a time when many young people left home or made decisions regarding the communities and social groups within which they ‘belonged’. When John, the adolescent son of a knight from Northampton, defied his parents’ wishes to join the small Franciscan community in his hometown in the opening decades of the thirteenth century, he did so by publicly communicating his desire to belong to the brethren instead of to his family (De adventu fratrum, ed. Little, 1951).

In addition to exploring adolescent belonging from a personal perspective, my project also considers facets of political and institutional belonging, while remaining aware of the need for flexibility to encompass the often overlapping and intertwined nature of these two aspects. Because adolescence was deemed to be a time when young people could still be moulded by those around them, adolescents often faced constraints on their speech, actions and behaviour. I will be considering questions such as: how did different areas of medieval society attempt to exclude (or include) young men? How did adults exert control over adolescents’ social, romantic and sexual relationships, their physical and psychological development, and their life choices and independence? And what can we determine of adolescent acceptance, or resentment, of the political, legal or institutional restrictions and expectations imposed upon them?

Examining adolescent experiences and notions of adolescence throughout medieval Europe poses several challenges. Participatory research – a crucial aspect of modern youth studies – is, of course, impossible when centring on the lives of young people who lived several centuries ago. Consulting a wide variety of surviving sources helps overcome this by shedding light on different aspects of adolescence over the period. Letters and autobiographical writings recall some of the conflicting expectations and social pressures adolescents confronted. Chroniclers and biographers stress adolescence’s significance as an educationally formative phase of life when young men learnt their roles in a military environment, often testing themselves against their peers. Collections of exempla furnish a range of moralising tales and cautionary stories of young adolescents in monastic communities which can be revealing of adult attempts to regulate adolescent behaviour. Similar efforts to influence and control young people’s sense of ‘belonging’ can also be observed in pedagogical tracts which present ideals of adolescent conduct. Literary works further augment this impression through representations of fictional adolescent lives which were intended to resonate with the experiences and emotions of their audiences.

Examining the multifaceted ways in which ideas about belonging entwined with concepts of adolescence and adolescent experience provides a valuable lens through which to consider young people’s place in medieval society, elucidating facets of wider societal change between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries.

About the author:  Dr Emily Joan Ward is a medieval historian and British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow based in the Department of History at UCL. Her first monograph, Royal Childhood and Child Kingship: Boy Kings in England, Scotland, France and Germany, c.1050–1262, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press (2022). Her research interests include life cycle and gender, rulership and authority, and documentary culture and historical writing.

Youth and music in the city – 24th November 2021

By UCL Global Youth, on 10 November 2021

To view a recording of this webinar, visit our Youtube channel.

The final webinar in our Youth and the City webinar series takes places on Wednesday, 24th November from 12 noon – 1pm (UK time). This webinar will focus on young people’s relationship with music.

To register for this event and receive a Zoom link for the webinar, visit our Eventbrite page. The webinars will also be recorded and later posted on the CGY YouTube channel for those who cannot attend during the live session.

Presentation 1: Hiphopography as urban cartography: Some notes on shared study

Dr Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan, Goldsmiths, University of London  

In this talk I draw from my experiences running rap/poetry workshops with court-involved youth in New York City – before I entered the world of academia – to illustrate the possibilities of hiphopography as an urban cartographic method that maps the relationships and distances produced by anti-Black state violence. In the late 1990s historian and hip hop scholar James Spady coined the term hiphopography to describe the kinds of biographical, ethnographic, and oral history approaches hip hop/Black Studies scholars utilise to challenge ideas of the ‘researcher and the ‘researched’ implicit in traditional ethnography. I mark the ways in which hiphopography can offer a critical and creative means to collaboratively study urban cartographies of marginalization and violence with young people through the production of sonic, visual, textual, and embodied forms of knowledge.  These forms don’t necessarily need to be consumed by scholarly or hip hop publics as art or evidence. Rather, this material foregrounds hip hop’s artistic practice as a theoretically rich and relational engagement with the racialized conditions of possibility – what Fred Moten might call study – for youthful life in the city.

Author Biography: Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths. He holds a joint PhD in education and socio-cultural anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. His audio-visual and written research engages with the ways in which digital media consumption, production, and circulation shape understandings of migration, gender, race, and urban space.

Presentation 2: Scottish Hip-Hop? Challenging, interpreting and remaking youth culture(s) A short discussion about Scottish culture, hip-hop culture and the ways that local and global culture(s) interact.

Dr Dave Hook, Edinburgh Napier University

In this talk, I will discuss my own experiences of making and being involved in hip-hop in Scotland. This provides opportunities to ask questions about people’s preconceptions about both hip-hop culture and Scottish culture, examining youth stereotypes in both, and challenging ideas that elements of each may be incompatible. Using a combination of autoethnography, poetic analysis and cultural studies, evidence emerges demonstrating the combining of local culture(s), global culture(s) and the individual idiosyncratic, hybridising to create something new that can exist across cultural domains.

Biography:  Dr Dave Hook is a Lecturer in Music at Edinburgh Napier University. A rapper, poet, song-writer and music producer, he lectures in a range of subjects including lyric writing and analysis, recording studio theory and practice, mastering techniques and music production. His research focuses on hip-hop, rap lyricism, identity, culture and performance, through creative practice.

Winner of Best Hip-Hop at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards 2018, he has toured extensively throughout the UK and around the globe both as the lyricist and principal songwriter with alternative hip-hop group Stanley Odd, and as solo artist, Solareye. Stanley Odd’s most recent album, ‘STAY ODD’ was shortlisted for Scottish Album of the Year 2021. His written poetry has been published in a range of publications including Gutter Magazine, Neu! Reekie!’s #UntitledTwo anthology, and Forty Voices Strong: An Anthology of Contemporary Scottish Poetry.

About the Youth and the City webinar series

This term the Centre for Global Youth is using its webinar series to explore the latest research on youth and cities. Over 6 weeks during October to November 2021, these 1-hour seminars will bring together a range of guest speakers to share new research and engage in dialogue about how young people use, relate to, challenge and remake urban spaces. Spanning research in cities from the Global North and South, session topics will include precarity, race, social class, activism, music, and youth voice. Contributors will draw on theories from sociology, human geography, anthropology, political science, and beyond. Overall, the aim of the program is to overcome silos of urban sociology, youth studies and allied fields, and encourage further conversations at critical intersections of youth and cities.

Organisational details: The series is co-ordinated by Avril Keating, Caroline Oliver, and Brett Lashua, UCL-IOE.

Privacy: For information about UCL’s privacy practices and how UCL uses your data, please see the UCL General Privacy Notice.

Youth Activism in the City Part 2: youth movements in East Asia and Hong Kong

By UCL Global Youth, on 20 October 2021

To view a recording of this webinar, visit our Youtube channel. 

Wednesday, 10th November from 12 noon – 1pm (UK time). To register for this event and receive a Zoom link for the webinar, visit our Eventbrite page. 

This week we return to the theme of youth activism in the city, this time taking a closer look at youth movements in East Asia and Hong Kong.

We will be joined by Dr Sonia Lam-Knott (DPhil Anthropology, Oxon), a Research Affiliate of the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford. Her research focusses on the interplay between politics, temporality, and urban space in the contemporary East Asian context, with emphasis on the experiences of young people. She has published her work in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies and Space and Polity, and co-edited volumes on youth politics and post-politics in Asian cities.

In this webinar, Dr Lam-Knott will present a paper entitled Resilience or Resignation? Youth Mobilisations in/ from Hong Kong. This presentation examines youth movements in Asian cities during the 2010s, with emphasis on the quasi-democratic context of Hong Kong. Using ethnographic observations and documentary data, it outlines the variegated political aspirations, strategies, and spatial manifestations seen in the city’s youth-led mobilisations. It then addresses how Hong Kong civil society’s ability to access and use public space has been disrupted by a combination of heavy-handed police responses, COVID-19 public health measures, and by the introduction of the 2020 National Security Law aimed at curtailing a broad array of dissent. Under these circumstances, young people have broadly responded in two ways. Some have engaged in novel forms of physical and digital mobilisations, as a means of reclaiming and re-imagining political spaces in the city. At the same time, driven by their seemingly bleak realities, other young people are seeking to permanently emigrate and re-establish their futures in spaces of elsewhere. The presentation concludes by noting how these actions highlight fissures – as dictated by respective differences in affective outlooks, life stages, and socio-economic capital – within the category of ‘youth’ in Hong Kong.

About the Youth and the City webinar series

This term the Centre for Global Youth is using its webinar series to explore the latest research on youth and cities. Over 5 weeks during October to November 2021, these 1-hour seminars will bring together a range of guest speakers to share new research and engage in dialogue about how young people use, relate to, challenge and remake urban spaces. Spanning research in cities from the Global North and South, session topics will include precarity, race, social class, activism, music, and youth voice. Contributors will draw on theories from sociology, human geography, anthropology, political science, and beyond. Overall, the aim of the program is to overcome silos of urban sociology, youth studies and allied fields, and encourage further conversations at critical intersections of youth and cities.

The webinars will also be recorded and later posted on the CGY YouTube channel for those who cannot attend during the live session.

Organisational details: The series is co-ordinated by Avril Keating, Caroline Oliver, and Brett Lashua, UCL-IOE.

Privacy: For information about UCL’s privacy practices and how UCL uses your data, please see the UCL General Privacy Notice.

Webinar on Race, Class, Youth and the City – 27th October

By UCL Global Youth, on 14 October 2021

To view a recording of this webinar, visit our Youtube channel.

The second webinar in our Youth and the City webinar series takes places on Wednesday, 20th October from 12 noon – 1pm (UK time). This webinar will focus on the inter-related issues of race, class, youth and city.

To register for this event and receive a Zoom link for the webinar, visit our Eventbrite page. The webinars will also be recorded and later posted on the CGY YouTube channel for those who cannot attend during the live session.

Presentation 1: Blasted Places – Smog, Steel and Stigma in a Post-industrial Region

Professor Anoop Nayak, Newcastle University

In 2015 the death knell tolled on Redcar steelworks in Teesside, North East England, ending 170-year-old history of steelmaking in the region.  The nearest major urban agglomeration, Middlesbrough, was literally brought-into-being with the discovery of iron ore, the rise of heavy engineering and later developments in petro-chemical manufacture.  Steel-manufacture, engineering and industry provided a stable future for generations of young people in the region.  But what happens when an area, spawned from the material elements of the Anthropocene, is no longer regarded as profitable?  When the iron core of its very constitution implodes, leaving it depicted as a redundant, polluted and blasted place?  This paper explores this transition and how Middlesbrough has come to be stigmatized as a ‘sulpherous zone’ (Wacquant, 2007), tarnished by chemical pollutants, high rates of unemployment, drugs and longstanding early teenage pregnancy.  It investigates the heavy weight of stigma in Teesside, how it comes to be attached to bodies, neighbourhoods, the natural environment and social life more generally.  However, contrary to the work of Wacquant (Wacquant, 2007; Wacquant et al. 2014) and other urban sociologists writing on territorial stigma, the study explores forms of local resistance and collective attempts by residents to reclaim, rework and re-script the supposedly stigmatized places they reside in.

Author Biography: Anoop Nayak is a Professor of Social & Cultural Geography at Newcastle University. His research interests are in: race and ethnic studies; youth, culture and social Class; and gender, masculinities and social Change. Anoop has published widely in these areas and is author of Race, Place and Globalization:  Youth Cultures in a Changing World (2003 Oxford: Berg).  He is co-author with Mary Jane Kehily of a joint monograph Gender, Youth and Culture:  Global Masculinities and Femininities (2013 2nd Ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan), and has published a social theory book on spatial relations of power with Alex Jeffrey entitled Geographical Thought (Routledge, 2013).  Anoop is currently leading a funded project exploring ‘Young People, Diversity and Belonging in a Post-Brexit Age’ (REA) and an ESRC co-production award exploring masculinities and care, ‘Boys to Men:  Developing New Templates for Masculinities in Primary Schools’.

Presentation 2: The Creative Underclass

Dr Tyler Denmead, University of Cambridge

In his book The Creative Underclass, Denmead critically examines his paradoxical role as the founder of an American-based arts studio for youth. Some young people have credited the studio with providing transformative educational experiences, while, at the same time, acting as a gentrifying force in their neighbourhoods. Denmead will discuss how the concept of the creative underclass is useful in understanding this paradoxical dispossession-through-inclusion and the ways in which young people trouble the racial logics of creative-led urban transformation.

Author Biography: Tyler Denmead teaches in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge and at Queens’ College.

About the Youth and the City webinar series

This term the Centre for Global Youth is using its webinar series to explore the latest research on youth and cities. Over 5 weeks during October to November 2021, these 1-hour seminars will bring together a range of guest speakers to share new research and engage in dialogue about how young people use, relate to, challenge and remake urban spaces. Spanning research in cities from the Global North and South, session topics will include precarity, race, social class, activism, music, and youth voice. Contributors will draw on theories from sociology, human geography, anthropology, political science, and beyond. Overall, the aim of the program is to overcome silos of urban sociology, youth studies and allied fields, and encourage further conversations at critical intersections of youth and cities.

Organisational details: The series is co-ordinated by Avril Keating, Caroline Oliver, and Brett Lashua, UCL-IOE.

Privacy: For information about UCL’s privacy practices and how UCL uses your data, please see the UCL General Privacy Notice.