Children, Young People and Families

Titles on our Children, Young People and Families list range from bestselling textbooks, including the Open University Childhood series, critical monographs such as those in the international Sociology of Children and Families series and the Families, Relationships and Societies journal.  

Long-established, this interdisciplinary list brings together work across Childhood Studies, Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology. It supports students in their successful study, challenges current policy and practice and offers practical guidance to those working with children and young people in often difficult circumstances.

Children, Young People and Families

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Author: Rob MacDonald

This chapter looks back on three studies, completed over 40 years, to consider change and continuity in the experiences of young people growing up in rural and marginalized localities in the North of England. It also reflects briefly on some of the continuities and repetitions in sociological thinking about young people and youth transitions. All three studies showed how place makes immediate ‘the structure of economic opportunities’ for young people, how it generates different degrees of inclusion and exclusion, and how it contours local class identities that tell you ‘who you are’ and ‘what you can do’. Young people’s identities and transitions have undoubtedly become less fixed under the pressures and opportunities of globalization. Nevertheless, place still operates in powerful, complex and multiple ways, and at different scales, in shaping young people’s attachments, aspirations and future possibilities. This may be particularly true for young people ‘at the margins’.

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This chapter explores and challenges widespread notions of rural racism and backwardness by engaging with the use of irony and satire among Swedish rural youth. Rather than viewing racism as individualized traits or opinions, ethnographic data is used to show how explicitly expressed racism can be understood as discursive positions in a matrix of moral intelligibility, a position that is ‘humorously’ inhabited or rejected differently with regards to gender, class and emplacement. While Swedish educational policies enforce ‘norm critical pedagogy’ as a way to ‘educate’ youth on tolerance and antiracism, the chapter shows how this reproduces ideas of rural moral inferiority. Analysing instead the (satirical) embodiment of the ‘politically incorrect rural racist’ as ‘trolling practices’ which require youth to be well-informed of contemporary cultural politics, the chapter argues that racist trolling is a way of critiquing national imaginaries of urban progressiveness and rural Otherness.

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Author: Trent Brown

Across the global south, there are growing concerns of a ‘youth exodus’ from agriculture. In response, governments, civil society and the corporate sector have launched programmes to encourage youth participation in agriculture, which chiefly focus on making farming more ‘aspirational’. Yet, this ‘aspirations’ focus individualizes agriculture’s generation programme in a way that is not appropriate in the global south. Drawing on a study of youth enrolled in two organic farming training programmes in Punjab, India, this chapter shows that young people’s decisions to remain in agriculture were informed by a range of social and geographically contingent factors that were often outside of their control. Less important than individual aspirations were peer-group dynamics, local job market prospects, regionally salient discourses about agriculture and environment, and the ways agriculture featured within their families’ long-term mobility strategies.

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This chapter analyses young people’s drinking practices and experiences in suburban and rural England to explore how young people located beyond global cities creatively navigate shifting conditions of possibility and constraint shaping their opportunities to socialize. The chapter investigates young people’s drinking practices in the suburbs of Manchester, and in rural village pubs in Lincolnshire. It pays particular attention to how young people craft and experience ‘drinkscapes’, and the role of classed and other socio-spatial processes of exclusion in the creation and experience of drinkscapes. Suburban and rural drinkscapes offer distinct drinking experiences. The material cultures and sensual atmospheres of suburban and rural drinkscapes have the ability to both allure and repel young people.

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A discourse of under-representation has long framed the participation of rural Australians in higher education. In light of the federal government’s objective of proportional representation, it has become commonplace for policy and research to refer to an intractable ‘problem’ of shifting long-standing enrolment patterns in universities. While ensuring equitable access to university is a key social justice concern, the problematic nature of ‘under-representation’ is often overlooked. This chapter interrogates this discourse by exploring how imagined futures are constructed in one rural Australian community, Oldfields, layering the voices of young people, parents, teachers and community members. Drawing on Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, a highly strategic and meaningful approach to post-school futures is illustrated which does not necessarily depend on university education. The authors argue that the aspirational strategies of rural Australian youth are marginalized in the discourse of under-representation, misrecognizing the immense effort rural communities exert as they navigate viable futures beyond dominant policy narratives.

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Housing affordability and declining rates of home ownership among members of the 25–34 age cohort are key concerns for Australian young adults. However, discussion has focused primarily on the challenges associated with urban housing markets, leaving young adults’ experiences of regional and rural housing markets comparatively under-addressed. This chapter focuses on this topic, presenting the findings of a discussion-based workshop conducted with 19 young adults living in a regional part of Tasmania, Australia. It illustrates the complex work that the participants performed in order to remain in a regional area with slim property and labour markets. Drawing on emerging research focusing on immobility and ‘rural stayers’ who remain in or return to rural and regional areas, this chapter contends that choosing to buy into a regional property market can be read as a key element of the complex ongoing mobility decision-making of young people living in regional and rural areas.

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The purpose of this book is to situate the place beyond the city as an epistemological vantage point for researching youth. Existing frameworks about young people privilege large urban centres or ‘global cities’, and create forms of marginality that are at once spatial and epistemological. This book interrogates and moves beyond theses boundaries, turning the margins into a unique position for understanding youth and examining forms of difference within and between urban and rural spaces. The book is organised into four sections: inequalities, focusing on the structural and cultural divisions shaping the margins; materialities, focusing on sensory embodiment and the lived environment; identities, focusing on place attachment and mobility; and temporalities, focusing on the history of place and the role of temporality in shaping identities and modes of place attachment. Across the book we develop this agenda through international contributions, with chapters across the global north and the global south, and including East and South-East Asia, Northern and Western Europe, and Australia. The margins therefore emerge as a complex topography of identities, modes of embodiment and processes of social change that cross spatial and epistemological divisions.

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The purpose of this book is to situate the place beyond the city as an epistemological vantage point for researching youth. Existing frameworks about young people privilege large urban centres or ‘global cities’, and create forms of marginality that are at once spatial and epistemological. This book interrogates and moves beyond theses boundaries, turning the margins into a unique position for understanding youth and examining forms of difference within and between urban and rural spaces. The book is organised into four sections: inequalities, focusing on the structural and cultural divisions shaping the margins; materialities, focusing on sensory embodiment and the lived environment; identities, focusing on place attachment and mobility; and temporalities, focusing on the history of place and the role of temporality in shaping identities and modes of place attachment. Across the book we develop this agenda through international contributions, with chapters across the global north and the global south, and including East and South-East Asia, Northern and Western Europe, and Australia. The margins therefore emerge as a complex topography of identities, modes of embodiment and processes of social change that cross spatial and epistemological divisions.

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Authors: David Farrugia and Signe Ravn

The purpose of this book is to situate the place beyond the city as an epistemological vantage point for researching youth. In this introductory chapter we interrogate the spatial and epistemological boundaries that shape current thinking about young people, and examine the concept of the margins as a position from which to create theory. Large urban centres and ‘global cities’ operate as taken for granted vantage points for understanding youth in late modernity, but the concept of the margins as we develop it here goes beyond this to explore the forms of spatial marginality existing both between and within rural and urban spaces. With this in mind, this chapter sketches the book’s agenda across four domains, including inequalities, materialities, identities and temporalities. In the process, we approach the space beyond the city not merely as a margin, but as a theoretically productive and unique position for thinking about the future of youth research.

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The purpose of this book is to situate the place beyond the city as an epistemological vantage point for researching youth. Existing frameworks about young people privilege large urban centres or ‘global cities’, and create forms of marginality that are at once spatial and epistemological. This book interrogates and moves beyond theses boundaries, turning the margins into a unique position for understanding youth and examining forms of difference within and between urban and rural spaces. The book is organised into four sections: inequalities, focusing on the structural and cultural divisions shaping the margins; materialities, focusing on sensory embodiment and the lived environment; identities, focusing on place attachment and mobility; and temporalities, focusing on the history of place and the role of temporality in shaping identities and modes of place attachment. Across the book we develop this agenda through international contributions, with chapters across the global north and the global south, and including East and South-East Asia, Northern and Western Europe, and Australia. The margins therefore emerge as a complex topography of identities, modes of embodiment and processes of social change that cross spatial and epistemological divisions.

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