Young People, Transitions and Social Change: Researching Disconnected Youth

  • Robert MacDonald
  • Jane Marsh


The late 1990s and early 2000s were a favourable period for youth research in the UK, in terms of the amount of academic research funded by research councils and charities and the apparent willingness of government to support applied, youth research (Jones, 2002).1 This interest in youth studies can be explained, at least in part, by a long-standing, ideological representation of youth ‘as/in trouble’ (Hebdige, 1988). The twin discourses of ‘care’ and ‘control’ have shaped popular, political and academic representations of youth and informed the governance of this social category through successive waves of state intervention (Griffin, 1993). Since the emergence of youth as a recognised age category in the early industrial era, social commentators have constructed young people as a vulnerable group in need of special treatment and care in a hostile adult world and, simultaneously, as an uncivilised, threatening presence requiring discipline and control (Gillis, 1974). Geoff Pearson (1983), for instance, sees societal reactions to the perceived disorderliness of working-class young men in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as a long-running ‘history of respectable fears’. For Stan Cohen (1980), popular reactions to the Mods and Rockers sub-cultures of the 1960s can be understood as media-fuelled moral panics about these new, young ‘folk devils’.


Young People Social Exclusion Transition Study Social Division Lone Parent 
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Copyright information

© Robert MacDonald and Jane Marsh 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert MacDonald
    • 1
  • Jane Marsh
  1. 1.University of TeessideUK

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