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Mapping young lives: what are the spaces and places that young people use in coastal towns?

By Avril Keating, on 18 July 2019

By Rachel Benchekroun and Avril Keating

The initial discussions with the Year 10 students in Margate suggested that there were key areas of the town that young people did not feel were safe or accessible. To try to identify the spaces and places that young people do feel they can use, Rachel asked the students to draw maps of their town.

For this exercise, the students were given about 5 minutes to create a map to show where they go and where they feel safe. The maps they produced highlighted the different types and levels of mobility within the group.

Home – School – Home

Several students said they do not go anywhere other than walking from home to school and back; this was reflected in their maps, which either depicted just their bedroom or house, or represented their home and school and the trajectory between the two. Jessie (female, 14), for example, drew her house and the corner shop, showing her movements between the rooms of the house and to and from the shop, where she said she goes to buy crisps.

Meanwhile, Sam’s map consists of a plan of his bedroom (taking up just one small corner of the page), with an image of the TV and PlayStation that he uses for entertainment, and a table ‘where my chicken is’.

Jessie’s map

Sam’s map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This tendency to stay so close to home can be explained in part by fact that contemporary teenagers spend more time in their homes than previous generations. Although they remain within the home, Ito et al (2009) argue that we should not automatically assume contemporary youth are more isolated; instead, they are often engaged in online forms of ‘hanging out’ that replicate the youth activities (e.g. chatting, gossiping, collaborating) that used to happen ‘offline’. However, while this may be true for Sam, Jessie told us she spends so much time at home because: I don’t have friends to go out with. […] I stay at my house. I don’t go anywhere.

In this town, another possible reason that young people spend so much time at home is that they felt that going out was unsafe. Parts of Margate are plagued by high rates of crime, and its young residents are particularly vulnerable to some of these criminal activities. As a result, it is perhaps no surprise that one student told us:

I do like Margate but […] I don’t feel safe. I stay at home unless I go out with my family, like once a month for the community activity. My mum says not to go out because there are gangs. […] I don’t go out. I stay at home.

Making local spaces their own

When the students do stray beyond home or school boundaries, they told us that they tend to hang out at cheap shops and supermarkets in the town centre (such as Aldi, Lidl and Poundstretchers) or the large retail park that was on the outskirts of town. This continues the long-standing tradition of teenagers hanging out on the high street, but it also reflects young people’s often limited resources, and their limited access to, and exclusion from, various forms of public spaces (Ito et al, 2009, Shaw et al, 2015).

These retail spaces are not targeted at young people, but the students were creative in their use of these places and found ways of making them their own. Lydia and Evangeline (14), for example, took great delight in co-producing a large picture of the local supermarket where they claimed to spend most of their time. Lydia explained: “it’s my favourite place. It’s my home away from home.”

Rachel: How often do you go there and why?

Lydia: I live there, it’s my house! [laughs]

Teacher: Do you hang out IN [the supermarket] or outside?

Lydia: Both.

Teacher: What about the security guy?

Lydia: We play ‘Double Double This This’ [a clapping game] with him.

Lydia and Evangeline are thus an example of young people claiming urban spaces through ‘playful encounter’ and creating ‘momentary micro-atmospheres of joy’ (Pyyry and Tani 2017, Pyyry 2016). As young people ‘hanging out’, they ‘take part in urban life and in the creation of its fleeting atmospheres. They are involved with places that are important to them and claim these as their own, even if just temporarily’ (Pyyry and Tani, 2017, p.12).

Tourist areas = not spaces for local youth?

Of course, Margate has lots of non-retail local amenities, and some of these were reflected in some of the students’ maps. In these maps, the key landmarks that were featured were the beach, Dreamland amusement park, and the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery in the centre of Margate. Yet, while some of students did utilise these places, the subsequent discussion revealed that most did not.  The students’ more typical relationship with these places is reflected in Lydia and Rory’s discussion of the latter’s map:

Lydia: My dear friend, why do you enjoy visiting those places?

Rory: I don’t enjoy going to those places… I just put [them] there for effect. Turner, I never go. Sometimes I go to Ramsgate Fried Chicken. I visit Tivoli [area of Margate] quite often. I hang out there.

In short, these sites tended to be viewed as spaces for tourists, not for young people that live in the town.

What do the maps tell us about youth mobility?

The students’ maps indicate that most have low levels of geographical mobility, even within their own town. Most of the young people focused on the micro-scale, and the (very) local environment. The one exception to this was James who, in contrast to the others, drew a detailed map of the Thanet district, showing not only Margate but other towns in the region, with arrows towards other towns, including London. James even included a key along the side of the map, to indicate how often he visits them.

This geographically-rich map provided a striking contrast with the other maps, but as this was a pilot project, we did not have an opportunity to explore why James focused on his connections with the wider region, rather than with the local town as the others did. One avenue we would like to explore in the future is if his greater exposure to mobility indicated (a) an increased propensity to be more geographically mobile in the future and/ or (b) a greater likelihood of social mobility in the future. As Skrbis et al (2014) point out, mobility is now widely treated as a passport to a better future for young people. As a result, the dynamics of globalisation mean that, for this generation of young people anyway, geographical and social mobility are closely intertwined.

This project was funded by the UCL Grand Challenge small grant scheme in association with the UCL Grand Challenge of Cultural Understanding. 

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Attachment to place: how do young people feel about their seaside town?

By Avril Keating, on 16 July 2019

By Rachel Benchekroun and Avril Keating

A recent House of Lords’ report outlined the wide range of challenges facing coastal communities and highlighted the short- and long-term impacts that these challenges can have on young lives.  What was less clear was how young people themselves feel about their growing up in these communities. This was one of the key questions we wanted to explore throughout our pilot project.

Coastal communities in crisis?

Since the 1960s, global integration and cheaper international travel have created pressures on traditional seaside resorts whose economies rely on tourism (Agarwal et al, 2018). These factors, compounded by the global economic crisis and subsequent austerity measures, have led to many seaside towns experiencing a significant fall in tourism as well as cuts to public services. While some seaside towns have managed to recover and find an alternative economic base, many have become ‘deep pockets of deprivation’ (Rickey and Houghton, 2009, p.47). They are characterized by ‘youth out-migration and inward migration of older people, high proportions of retirees and benefit claimants, transitory populations, physical isolation, poor-quality housing, over-reliance on tourism, seasonal employment, low incomes and pressure on services during the summer months’ (Burdsey, 2018, p.37). How is this experienced by young people?

Margate in Three Words

One of the ways we tried to capture young people’s views of their town was to ask them to describe it in three words. Their responses were, for the most part, negative. Typical phrases included: eccentric, drug-infested, loud, unsafe, dirty and chavvy. ‘Chavvy’ was mentioned multiple times, and when I asked what they meant by it, Aiden (male, 14) quipped, “council house and violent!” Lydia (female, 14), however, was more nuanced in her response: ‘That’s one definition. Everyone has their own definition of what they see a chav is. The easiest way to describe it is […] quite aggressive, speaks and does things in a certain way’.

“Trampy” was another suggestion with similar connotations. Ryan (male, 14), for example, offered “chavvy, trampy and different” as his three words to describe Margate. He explained that ‘trampy’ meant “full of tramps”, which in turn he defined as: “[people who] chuck rubbish and everything. They think they’re hard and everything.” Similarly, Craig’s (male, 15) view of Margate was that it was full of “drugs, poverty, [and] gangs… Crime is everywhere, drug-use is, you always see homeless people on the street, it’s everywhere.”

Craig’s perspective is corroborated by Thanet District Council’s recent report highlighting some of the biggest social challenges in the local area, including exploitation, drug and alcohol misuse, and crime and gang activity . Thanet is affected by drug gangs operating from London (‘county lines’) and the practice of ‘cuckooing’, where a dealer befriends a vulnerable person and takes over their property to deal from there. In addition, the Council has outlined concerns about increasing numbers of vulnerable young people placed in care in Thanet from other parts of the country, putting them at risk from the criminal activity in the local area.

These local characteristics have not gone unnoticed by the young people we talked to; many felt that parts of the town were dangerous and unsafe for young people like themselves. Paris (female, 14) emphasised her frustration with the noise and feeling unsafe:

“…it’s so loud I struggle to sleep at night. The area where I live is more near the seaside – there are quite a few people who hang around at night and think it’s okay to shout and sing loudly! And it’s even worse on Fridays! It’s unsafe, [although] I’m sure there are lots of parts of London that are more unsafe than here.”

When I asked the students if there was anywhere in particular that they felt unsafe, “Cliftonville!” was the consensus. As one of the most deprived areas in southern England, and the highest crime area in Thanet, Cliftonville is known for the high levels of transience, poor housing conditions and problems with overcrowded accommodation; 75% of private sector tenants are dependent on housing benefit. The students described feeling intimidated by “lots of people in massive groups”, referring to the area as “quite rowdy”.

More positive views…

Although the young people expressed mostly negative views of Margate, the students also expressed some positive views of their town. For example, while Evangeline agreed that Margate felt ‘unsafe’, she also emphasised ‘unique’ places like Dreamland amusement park, which is “quite funky and could – [it] used to be considered a tourist attraction, so it’s quite popular”. The theme park was not seen as being just for tourists: Linda (female, 14) said Dreamland is a ‘safe’ space for her:

“It’s a place where I feel like I can hang with people and I have things to do; not just sitting around doing nothing.”

And in a discussion about images of Margate, some also mentioned positive things about the ‘nicer’ parts of town (“the old town is actually nice”)  and the beach that lies at the heart of the town (“I go to the beach – in the summer I’m there practically every other day”).  Many of the students (and one of the teachers) also drew my attention to Margate’s ethnic diversity, which was agreed to be an asset.

Ismet (male, 15) described Margate as ‘welcoming’ and ‘busy’, relating his observations to the tourist industry. But the tourism can also have its downsides during the summer. Rory (male, 15) described Margate as ‘crowdy’ when it’s warm:

“If you go to Dreamland, especially this season, or if it’s just warm in Margate, the beaches will literally be full, and you will have to oom! [mimes using elbows] [others laugh] They are full! Crowdy.”

In short, the students’ first instinct was to highlight the negative attributes of Margate, and their descriptions and discussions suggested that there are key areas in this town that young people do not feel are safe or accessible. In the next blog post, we explore the spaces and places that young people in Margate do use and consider the implications this has for their future mobility plans.

This project was funded by the UCL Grand Challenge small grant scheme in association with the UCL Grand Challenge of Cultural Understanding. 

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Piloting place-based and participatory youth research: lessons learned in Margate

By Avril Keating, on 16 July 2019

A guest post by Rachel Benchekroun, Research Assistant on the Youth attitudes towards mobility and migration project, and PhD student at UCL-IOE.

I am working on a small-scale project looking at mobility aspirations among young people in coastal towns (funded by UCL Grand Challenges, and co-led by Avril Keating, Claire Cameron, Abigail Knight and Jo Waters). As part of this project, we wanted to pilot a series of research instruments to explore questions such as (a) how can we incorporate arts- and place-based methods into our research practice? (b) how can we include more youth voice into our research process? and (c) what are the best ways to enable young people to become researchers in their own communities?

Fortunately, the Head of Citizenship at a secondary school in Margate was very keen for her students to get involved in the project, and in April and May of this year, I ran 3 workshops with a selection of Year 10 students. Here, I reflect on some of the practical things that I learned from these workshops.

The Pilot Project

When I first approached the school, I proposed working with a group of up to eight 16- to 18-year-old students for a couple of hours per week, over 3 consecutive weeks. In practice, it didn’t happen quite like this – the time of year, school timetable restrictions, and the teachers’ and students’ enthusiasm for the project meant that I instead found myself running the workshops with a lively group of twelve Year 10 students (aged 14 and 15) for just one hour per week. This created more pressure on time, and also limited the number of activities I could try out with the students.

For our first workshop, we decided to focus on introducing the students to the project and asking them for their views about the various arts-based research instruments we had developed. With this in mind (after I had outlined the aims of the project and obtained their informed consent) I asked the students to try out some of some of these tools, including

  • A word association game (Describe Margate in 3 words!)
  • Photo-response activity (using photos of Margate to gauge perceptions of places and feelings of belonging);
  • Mapping exercise (drawing a map to show the journeys they make and feelings about places and spaces).

The students approached these tasks in a variety of ways – they were keen to share their views and debate meanings with each other.

Having consulted the students in Workshop 1, the aim of the second workshop was to encourage the students to become researchers in their own communities. We wanted students to try out our research tools with their friends, to give them an opportunity to become real world researchers, and to give us an opportunity to see how our tools would be used by Young Peer Researchers. With this in mind, much of Workshop 2 focused on explaining the ethical and practical considerations of doing research. And at the end of the workshop, I asked the students to try out our research tools with two peers at school by the following week. I provided them with two research packs each, which included a checklist, consent forms, and participant information sheets. They were asked to record their interviews if possible (using their mobile phones) and to bring all the data produced, as well as consent and information forms, to the final session.

The primary purpose of Workshop 3, then, was to collect and analyse the data that our Young Researchers had collected, and to ask them to reflect on the experience of being a researcher. The students told us that they had really enjoyed the workshops, and in in Workshop 2, they had been enthusiastic about the idea of trying out the research tools with their friends at home.

However, in the end only 5 of the 12 Young Researchers said they had undertaken some research, and of these, only one shared audio recordings and two shared transcripts of interviews. Two more said they would email notes of their interviews, but these have not been received. Two other patterns were striking: (a) The students only attempted to do the word association game with their friends, and ignored the other suggested activities (b) The peer interviews all appeared to be quite short in length (e.g. a couple of minutes in the audio recordings). While this was slightly disappointing, it has provided an opportunity for reflection, which can help us plan for the larger-scale research project.

Lessons Learned

Why did many of the students not carry out the peer research activities? This may be due to a lack of confidence, and/or difficulties organising themselves. At least one student had previously expressed reluctance about interviewing others. In the third session, another commented: ‘I tried to interview my friend, but he walked away!’ I feel that working with slightly older students, having more time to prepare the Young Researchers and providing opportunities for practice in pairs within the classroom (allowing them to take on the role of researcher) would have helped the students to undertake peer research.

Some students did not have a mobile phone or recording facilities, which may have deterred them from doing the research. Addressing this in advance with the help of the teacher might have overcome this.

Why did no-one try the mapping or photograph activities?  The students may have found it difficult to plan ahead and to find the time and appropriate space within the school setting to do the interviews. It may be that including blank paper and felt tip pens in the Young Researchers’ packs would have made it easier for them to do the mapping activity with their peers. Whilst I had used printed photos for the photo activity, I had encouraged the Young Researchers to ask their friends to share photos of places from their phones – but expecting them to carry out the activity differently to how we did it in the classroom may have caused confusion. Making a list of who wanted to try out which tools and/or asking the teacher to provide time and appropriate space for the students to do their research as part of the next lesson might also have helped ensure all the tools were piloted.

Why were young researchers’ interviews so short (and data limited)? With only one hour per week, there was just enough time to try out the different research tools in session one, but with very little time left for discussion and analysis. Although I reiterated the importance of using the tools as a means of provoking discussion and reflection, and to a limited extent modeled this, the students themselves did not get the chance to practice the activities or the necessary skills in the classroom, which did not therefore facilitate in-depth learning for them to later put into practice independently.

Planning for the longer-term research project

We hope to build on the promising relationships with the school staff and students, and to work with key staff to embed the training and research process into the Citizenship curriculum. This will allow more time to explore and experiment with the research tools, to build up the students’ confidence and interviewing skills, and to provide more structured time and space for the young researchers to undertake research with their peers.

This project was funded by the UCL Grand Challenge small grant scheme in association with the UCL Grand Challenge of Cultural Understanding. 

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CGY/ CSEE Joint Research seminar, 23rd May 2019

By Avril Keating, on 1 May 2019

‘Troubled’ youth, disgust and the destruction of dignity: findings from ethnographic arts-based research with young people.

23rd May 2019, 2-3.30pm

Room 804, UCL Institute of Education

On May 23rd, we will be joined by Dr Jo Deakin and Dr. Claire Fox, from the Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Manchester.

Jo and Claire will present a paper that highlights the experiences of young people labelled as ‘troubled’ or ‘at risk of being drawn into criminal activity’.  Drawing on findings from a UK-based case study, as part of a European collaborative project (PROMISE), the analysis sets out a conceptual framework within which young people’s experiences of criminalisation can be understood. The project explores their experiences of authorial controls via informal, formal and legal structures embedded within a ‘disgust’ agenda, as well as their responses to the ‘at risk/troubled’ label.

Their framework draws on concepts of identity, structural inequality, marginalisation and the destruction of dignity as key elements of young people’s experience, while notions of resistance, anger, apathy, resourcefulness and resilience shape their responses.  Young people’s narratives are central to their analysis, and are drawn out using arts-based elicitation methods. These methods shed light on the multiple types and sites of criminalisation from the perspectives of those experiencing it.

(NB: This event is free, open to all and there is no need to book a place in advance).

The Colouring Book Information Sheet: Involving Young Children in the Research Process through Informed Assent

By Avril Keating, on 12 March 2019

A guest post by Sandra El Gemayel, a PhD Candidate at UCL, Institute of Education

In recent years, research with/for/about children and young people has been on the rise. Minors have started being recognised as experts in their own lives, with a voice and with agency, prompting researchers to include them more centrally in research studies. With more and more children being involved in such projects, how might researchers ensure that the young participants truly understand the aims of the study and their role in the research process? In this article, I describe the steps that I took as a PhD researcher to gain child participants’ informed assent and discuss some challenges that arose along the way.

Having started my PhD in January 2016, I planned to move to Lebanon in May 2017 to conduct fieldwork with young Iraqi and Syrian children (4-8 years old) who had fled their home countries due to armed conflict. My aim was to study the impact that armed conflict and displacement had on those children’s childhoods and on their play. As my methodology included interviewing young children using participatory methods and adopting a ‘Day in the Life’ approach (see Gillen & Cameron, 2010), spending a whole day observing the children using a video camera, I wanted to make sure that the participating children clearly understood what was being asked of them before they gave their assent to continue with the study.

I conducted a literature search on gaining children’s informed assent and landed upon Pyle and Danniels’ (2016) article Using a picture book to gain assent in research with young children. The authors created an ‘assent picture book’ for the young children participating in their study and included photographs of one researcher and two young children enacting every stage of the research process. Each photograph was followed by a short description. While this method of gaining informed assent seemed appropriate to adopt, the practicality of creating the picture book proved challenging. My supervisor and I considered the time it would take to find children who could be featured in the picture book, to receive consent and assent from the parents and children, to apply for ethics in order to use children’s photographs in the picture book and to finally take the photographs, and decided to take a different approach.

Drawing on the ‘assent picture book’, I created a colouring book, replacing photographs with cartoon outlines depicting the different stages of the research process. After a few failed attempts at drawing the cartoons myself, I ended up searching for images online. I included images of activities the children would be involved in such as playing, drawing, building with blocks, and taking photographs using disposable cameras. I also included images of the recording equipment I was to use, a video camera and a voice recorder. I chose drawings that most closely reflected the activity or object at hand in order to avoid misrepresentation, misunderstandings and disappointment, and each image was accompanied by a short description. I sent in the colouring book and other documents alongside my ethics form to the UCL IOE Ethics Committee and, once I received ethical approval to begin fieldwork, I personally translated the colouring book from English to Arabic, the language spoken by the participants.

Images from the Child Consent Colouring Book

Following recruitment, I visited each child’s home and, after receiving parental consent, went through every image in the colouring book with each child, explaining why I was there, what I wanted to do, and what was expected of the children. I also distributed extra copies of the colouring book to the children’s siblings. The colouring books proved to be very successful. The case study children pointed to their favourite images, actively asked me questions about the images, and coloured them in with great focus and excitement using colouring pencils that I had provided. The children also referred back to the colouring books during follow-up visits.

Continuing the Consent Conversation
Ongoing assent throughout the research process was also one of my top priorities. I wanted the children to feel comfortable letting me know whether or not they wanted to take part in any activity, and it was my ethical responsibility to abide by their decisions. I had previously tried out a method to gain ongoing assent when conducting fieldwork for my MA dissertation. I had created a red ‘STOP’ sign and a green ‘GO’ sign that the participating children could hold up to signify whether or not they wanted to take part in any activity. However, the signs were not very successful as the children regularly held up the wrong sign while giving assent or dissent. Moreover, the signs soon turned into ‘swords’ that the children integrated as props in their play and, although this was an interesting observation, it was obvious that the signs did not serve their intended purpose. Therefore, for my doctoral study, I decided to use a simpler method to gain assent: making a Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down sign. Images of a Thumbs Up and a Thumbs Down sign were represented in the colouring books, and were easily understood by the children. The children appeared to be familiar with the images, as all of the case study children linked the thumbs up sign to the ‘Like’ button that is used on Facebook.

While this method of ongoing assent worked well, I was conscious that the children did not always actively voice their assent or dissent. As a result, I took it upon myself to observe the children’s behaviour as I filmed them, or as I asked them to take part in certain activities. If at any point I felt that the children were uncomfortable or unhappy with my presence or my request, I asked them what they would like me to do and continued or discontinued the activity accordingly.

Conveying the aims of a research study to participant children and young people can sometimes be challenging. However, thinking practically and creatively to portray information in an age-appropriate and accessible manner can go a long way to ensure ethical research practice.

This research project was funded by the Froebel Trust and by University College London.

Researching with/ for/ about youth and young people: Programme details

By Avril Keating, on 15 January 2019

Following the success of our methods workshop last year, the UCL Centre for Global Youth is organising a second workshop to explore the challenges of researching with/ for/ about youth and young people.

This workshop will be an open, informal, and multi-disciplinary forum, involving both presentations from invited speakers, and group discussions among the audience.

To book your (free) place, click here.

Programme

13.00: Introductions and Opening Remarks – Avril Keating, Director, Centre for Global Youth

13.15 – 14.00: Panel 1 – Co-production and participatory methods

14.20 – 15.10: Panel 2 – Mixed methods and multi-media

  • Between objects and words: studying young people STEM identity performance through multimodal portfolios – Spela Godec, Uma Patel, Emily Dawson, Louise Archer UCL University College London
  • Adolescent Identities: Mixing methods, what worked best for us? – Melanie Ramdarshan Bold, UCL and Leah Phillips, Warwick University

15.10 – 16.00: Panel 3 – Methods for researching young migrants

16.00 – 16.30: Group discussion group – challenges and solutions for the future?

Youth related research events and activities at UCL this November

By Avril Keating, on 5 November 2018

CfP: Researching with/ for/ about youth and young people, 11th February 2019, 13.00 – 17.00pm, UCL-Institute of Education

Following the success of our methods workshop last year, the CGY is organising a second workshop to explore the challenges of researching with/ for/ about youth and young people. These challenges may include accessing young people and young lives, tackling ethical issues, or self-care for the researcher when researching youth who have experienced trauma. The innovations may include new(ish) methods (e.g. using social media for data collection) or ‘old’ methods that have been updated to reflect the challenges of your particular project.

This will be an open, informal, and multi-disciplinary forum. If you would like to present your research methods at this event, please send an expression of interest to Avril Keating (a.keating@ucl.ac.uk) by 15th December 2018. This expression of interest should include: your name, institutional affiliation, the proposed title of your presentation, and a short abstract (200 words).

We especially welcome abstracts from researchers using innovative methods and/ or Early Career Researchers (including PhD students). Researchers working in a non-academic setting are also very welcome to submit an abstract and/ or attend.

New project: Exploring the dynamics of globalisation for young people in coastal communities

The aim of this project is to identify research methods and cross-disciplinary intersections that will give us greater insight into how the dynamics of globalisation are shaping youth aspirations and attitudes towards mobility and migration. In 2019, we plan to organise two inter-disciplinary workshops for UCL researchers; exchange knowledge on emerging theories and methods of researching these themes; and conduct a pilot of some of these methods.

This project is funded by UCL Grand Challenges, and led by Avril Keating (CGY), Johanna Waters (Geography) and Claire Cameron and Abigail Knight (TCRU). To find out more, click here.

8 November: Realising aspirations? Gender, ethnicity and job inequalities  As part of this year’s ESRC Festival of Social Science, the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) will explore recent research on the impact of gender on the occupational aspirations of young people of different ethnic groups. Find more details here:

 15-16 November: LLAKES Centre Conference on Young Adults, Inequality and the Generational Divide: Learning and Life Chances in an Era of Uncertainty

This 2-day conference explores the changing opportunities structures for young adults in the context of growing inequality and economic uncertainty. For more details, click here.

If you would like us to add your event to this list, email us at globalyouth@ucl.ac.uk

Researching with/ for/ about youth and young people: CGY workshop on 11th February 2019

By Avril Keating, on 5 November 2018

** Call for Papers/ Presentations **

UCL-Institute of Education, 11th February 2019,  13.00 – 17.00pm

Following the success of our methods workshop last year, the CGY is organising a second workshop to explore the challenges of researching with/ for/ about youth and young people.

These challenges may include accessing young people and young lives, tackling ethical issues, or self-care for the researcher when researching youth who have experienced trauma. The innovations may include new(ish) methods (e.g. using social media for data collection) or ‘old’ methods that have been updated to reflect the challenges of your particular project.

This will be an open, informal, and multi-disciplinary forum. If you would like to present your research methods at this event, please send an expression of interest to Avril Keating (a.keating@uc.ac.ukby 15th December 2018. This expression of interest should include: your name, institutional affiliation, the proposed title of your presentation, and a short abstract (200 words).

We especially welcome abstracts from researchers using innovative methods and/ or Early Career Researchers (including PhD students). Researchers working in a non-academic setting are also very welcome to submit an abstract and/ or attend.

Youth attitudes towards mobility and migration: Exploring the dynamics of globalisation in coastal communities

By Avril Keating, on 5 November 2018

This project is funded by UCL Grand Challenges’ GCCU strand, and led by Avril Keating (CGY), Johanna Waters (Geography) and Claire Cameron and Abigail Knight (TCRU).

The aim of this project is to identify research methods and cross-disciplinary intersections that will give us greater insight into how the dynamics of globalisation are shaping youth aspirations and attitudes in coastal communities in England. Coastal towns are of particular interest because the dynamics of globalisation mean they are experiencing greater inward flows (tourists, ex-Londoners seeking cheaper housing, EU migrants) and outward flows (young people leaving to access further study/ work). At the same time, many of these towns are struggling to attract the kind of resources (e.g. good teachers, new jobs, transport investment etc.) that enable young people and coastal communities to flourish.

We will focus in particular on the impact of these dynamics on young people’s attitudes towards, and aspirations for, mobility and migration. It is often assumed that young people are highly mobile. This is a life stage in which young people become more independent and, it is assumed, start to explore new aspects of their communities and countries without assistance from adults. However, contemporary youth are doing this at a time when their communities are changing rapidly, through a combination of: cuts to youth services and transport links; inward migration of immigrants; and the closure of high street shops (which removes both job and leisure opportunities and spaces for young people).

Through our previous research, we believe that there are many unexplored tensions, contradictions, and inequalities in young people’s access to, and attitudes towards, mobility and migration. In this project, therefore, we will examine how new cross-disciplinary connections and new research methods might shed more light on these tensions.

Project Objectives

Our goals are to:
1. Bring together researchers from across UCL to exchange knowledge about the different definitions and theories of belonging, community, mobility, and migration that are being used in different disciplines (sociology, politics, psychology, geography and the Built environment);
2. Explore the relative merits of different data collection methods for tapping into youth experiences of and attitudes towards belonging, community, mobility and migration (e.g. walking interviews; local community ethnographies; arts and visual-based interventions; Big data and social media data);
3. Develop research instruments that enable us to test out how some of the suggested research methods could be used to address our research problem.
4. Consider the ethics of these different methods, particularly given the strictures of the new GDPR regulations; and
5. Lay the foundations for an interdisciplinary and mixed-method funding bid that allows us to extend this work and our understanding of young lives in coastal communities.

Action Plan and Timetable
To achieve these goals, we plan to:
1. February 2019: Conduct a preliminary literature review to identify the range of recent research on the impact of globalisation on coastal communities and key gaps in the field.
2. March 2019: Organise an inter-disciplinary Knowledge Exchange Workshop that brings together researchers from across UCL to share theories, methods, and research design ideas.
3. May 2019: Pilot 3 different methods of data collection in one coastal town, with young people aged 16-18.
4. June 2019: Organise an inter-disciplinary Dissemination and Reflection Workshop to report the results of the pilot and refine our methods.
5. July 2019: Produce a short project report and blog posts

Decolonising the curriculum – What can we learn from Global South theories and experiences?

By Avril Keating, on 2 November 2018

Recent student protests in South Africa and around the world have centred attention on what has been termed ‘epistemic justice’ – the need to ensure that knowledge is released from the rhetoric of modernity, the logic of coloniality and the illusion of globality. These events prompted Dr. Sharlene Swartz to consider key foundational questions in her own work, such as what does it mean to decolonise the curriculum? And what will it take to do so?

In her CGY research seminar on 31st October 2018, Dr. Swartz crafted a careful answer to these questions and presented Eleven Theses on Decolonising the Curriculum. In an attempt to show how these theses might be put into practice, and the difficulties that can be encountered, Dr. Swartz also described a current project in the field of youth studies: The Oxford Handbook of Global South Youth Studies. The Handbook, currently in preparation, offers an instructive case regarding how theory develops, travels, unravels and regenerates. Whilst showcasing new theoretical ways of understanding Southern youth’s life-worlds with its starkly differing material realities, she illustrated how this project offers ways to avoid essentialising and homogenising Southern experiences and to ensure a renewed global youth studies from which everyone benefits.

The slides from Dr. Swartz’s seminar are now available for download here.

Dr. Sharlene Swartz is Executive Director of the Transformative Education research programme at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa, an Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the University of Fort Hare and an adjunct Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Cape Town. She holds undergraduate degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Zululand in South Africa; a Master’s degree from Harvard University and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Her expertise and current research centres on the just inclusion of youth in a transforming society that includes interpersonal and communal notions of restitution. Her work is characterised by a focus on Southern theory, emancipatory methodologies and critical race theory. Before embarking on graduate studies, Sharlene spent 12 years at a youth NGO where she pioneered peer-led social justice programmes for school-going youth. She has published widely in academic journals and has authored or edited multiple books including Ikasi: the moral ecology of South Africa’s township youth (2009); Teenage Tata: Voices of Young Fathers in South Africa (2009); Youth citizenship and the politics of belonging (2013); Another Country: Everyday Social Restitution (2016), Moral eyes: Youth and justice in Cameroon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and South Africa (2018) and Studying while black: Race, education and emancipation in South African universities (2018). She is the President of the International Sociological Association’s Sociology of Youth research committee and is the chair of the board of the Restitution Foundation, an NGO in South Africa.

This seminar was facilitated by a grant from the UCL Global Engagement Fund.