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Session Overview
RN30_11c_P: Methodologies in Youth Studies
Friday, 01/Sep/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Tarja-Riitta Tolonen, University of Helsinki
Location: PC.3.18
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 3.

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The temporality and “historicality” of the individual: Methods and challenges of a qualitative follow-up study tackling historical landmarks and agency

Magda Nico


The economic crisis in Portugal can be seen as an historical landmark that affects the route of a country’s collective and generational identity but the timing of life in which is strikes also changes significantly the effect in might have in people’s trajectories and understandings of those trajectories.

A qualitative and biographical research on “middle class” transitions to adulthood carried out in 2009 was somewhat surprised by these historical circumstances. 52 young adults between 26 and 32 years of age were interviewed about their educational, residential, occupational and romantic lives. The crisis was not yet felt or imagined, and its effects were speculated but not experienced. On the other hand, although precariousness as a phenomenon was present in all the trajectories, its social and educational stratification was a clear predictor of different profiles of youth integration, persistence and subsistence in the labor market. The serendipity effects of the crisis and of the measures taken by the government on its behalf inspired a follow-up study that mobilizing a multiplicity of life course research instruments (biographic interview, life calendar, focus of control exercise, past reality checks) carried out a re-interviewing process to these individuals. This was developed during 2016 and 2017.

Results go the heart of the discussion of a distinction between ‘generation in itself’ and ‘generation for itself’ (Nico & Alves, 2017) and between ‘biographies of choice’ or ‘discourses of choice’ (Nico & Caetano, 2015). The apparent asocial reading of their life trajectories, which is not equivalent to lack of political literacy or participation, is discussed on the light of a critical approach to the theories of individualization.

Methodological notions around mentally disabled youth as informants of youth research

Päivi Armila

University of Eastern Finland, Finland

The focus of this presentation is on methodological challenges faced in a research project dealing with disabled youth’s possibilities to participate in sports hobbies. In this process interview data have been collected among also mentally disabled youth whose cognitive and communicative capabilities are limited. A phenomenologically orientated researcher is confused when trying to analyze and interpret this kind of data, as the hermeneutic principles of interpretation easily fracture in these meetings of two different realities and life worlds. The aim of my notions are to raise discussion about the topic very rarely explicated in methodological pondering of youth studies.

Where is the «we» in young people’s unemployment stories? 211 people in seven countries narrating about unemployment and job insecurity

Ida Tolgensbakk, Janikke Solstad Vedeler

Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Norway

In NEGOTIATE, a comprehensive EU-funded project, researchers have examined people’s experiences of early unemployment and job insecurity in seven countries. Participating countries were Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Norway, Poland and the UK – countries very different as to welfare strength and politics, as well as to unemployment rates. In Germany, seven out of 100 youth below the age of 24 are unemployed; in Greece, it is every other person. Despite the differences, we identified a few master narratives that were prevalent across the countries, categorized as the Stumbler, the Precariat, the Messy Life, and the Great Crisis Narrative. In this presentation, we examine to what extent the interviewees talk about a collective identity, a “we, the unemployed”. Preliminary analysis shows that it is only those with a physical disability as well as those with a Roma background narrating a Precariat Narrative and those telling a Great Crisis Narrative that to some extent view themselves as part of a collective as unemployed. Drawing on Nancy Fraser’s social justice theory, we discuss this seeming lack of a politicised community, and offer some potential insight into why unemployed youth do not see themselves as a “we”.

Minority young people’s stories about tense ethnic relations in the year of 2017

Pia Nyman-Kurkiala, Henrik Waldemar Kurkiala

Åbo Akademi University, Finland

The aim is to describe minority young people’s experiences of conflicts with majority young people based on qualitative data collected in the spring of 2017. These ethnic conflicts arise due to the different languages of Finland-Swedish (the minority, whose mother tongue is Swedish) and Finnish-speaking (the majority, whose mother tongue is Finnish) young people in Finland.

The empirical material consists of essays written in the spring of 2017 by ninth-grade pupils (15-16 years old) in Swedish-speaking upper-level schools in several cities in Finland. The cities are chosen taking into consideration different language environments. The essays are analysed by qualitative content analysis using NVivo 11.

Data have been collected over time repeatedly with this same method. In the older data one of the themes, which stood out conspicuously, were conflicts with Finnish-speaking young people. Verbal abuse was the most common form of conflict described, but also threatening physical advances and fights were described. The conflicts seem to be related to the identity work and ethnic identity of the young people. In the cities where Swedish-speakers form a minority, Swedish-speaking young people felt abused by Finnish-speaking young people and had developed a range of strategies to defend themselves against the abuse.

In the essays gathered this spring, in the spring of 2017, we´ll seek for young Finland-Swedes stories about tense ethnic relations to majority young people and for the coping strategies the minority young people are constructing to handle these situations. First preliminary results will be presented at ESA 2017.

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