8 June 2017: BSA Youth Study Group event ‘Researching youth in troubling times’, Leeds, UK
Methods that move? (Re)Imagining what it means to do cross cultural, comparative youth research
This paper seeks to use some of the challenges raised in a study of youth leisure in Glasgow and Hong Kong to make some broader reflections on the possibilities and pitfalls of comparative research in a global world. Eschewing a hierarchical, Western-orientated approach to research, we attempted to implement a collaborative approach to meaning making involving two research teams, conducting concurrent data collection in two field sites, and through the use of qualitative methods designed to capture the views and experiences of local youth. However, we were only partially successful in ‘decentring’ our research in this way, due to the Western/English-speaking background of the two co-Principal Investigators. Our efforts to collect strictly ‘comparable’ data also fell short of our original aspirations, with some approaches proving more successful in one field site than the other. We discuss how we responded to these divergences as they unfolded, primarily through what we refer to as ‘methods that move’ and ‘methods in place’ – sharing emergent data virtually across field sites, with youth participants and adult stakeholders, and physically meeting up in real time, ensuring all members of the research team had the opportunity to visit both field sites and reflect upon what they observed. In doing so, we demonstrate the importance of being flexible and adaptable, allowing the local and cultural context to shape the evolution of the project
12 November 2016: The Barras Social, Glasgow
If you come down to the Barras on 12 November, you’ll spot some new stall holders out on the market!
(Re)Imagining Youth is taking part in an exciting University of Glasgow event as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences 2016. Alongside the usual Christmas bargains, researchers from across the University of Glasgow will be in amongst the barras, sharing their research through a number of hands on activities. There will be demonstrations, games, exhibitions, music and film throughout the day, looking into some of the big questions about equality and change in our society. There’s something for everyone, including activities for the kids, so come on down to the Gallowgate anytime from 10am to grab yersel’ a bargain and find out more about how our work seeks to understand society and change it for the better! There will be opportunities to chat to RiY researchers and share your views on what’s important.
9 September 2016: Women’s History Scotland Annual Conference, Glasgow
In a Time of Her Own? Revisiting Pearl Jephcott’s work on youth leisure in Scotland
Abstract: Pearl Jephcott’s (1967) Time of One’s Own is a classic study of youth leisure which captured the social and leisure habits of 15-19 year-olds in Scotland at a unique point in social – and sociological – history. The study is remarkable for its prescient analysis of ‘ordinary’ or ‘typical’ youth and its ambitious and eclectic research design. This paper offers an introduction to Jephcott’s study, highlighting the most significant features of her scholarship – particularly her commitment to privileging the voices and experiences of ordinary young people and her willingness to experiment with novel ways of documenting everyday life. By locating Jephcott’s research practice within the context of postwar British sociology, the paper demonstrates how Jephcott was a product of her time, preceding yet presaging developments in feminist sociology: scrutinizing everyday domestic routines, privileging women’s voices, challenging mainstream approaches to collecting and presenting data, and attending to the connections between power and the production of knowledge.
23 March 2016: Playing Together Symposium, Polmont
(Re)Imagining Youth Leisure
11 November 2015: University of Glasgow Sociology Seminar, Glasgow
Searching for Pearls: Reflections on Researching the Life and Work of Pearl Jephcott (Professor John Goodwin, University of Leicester)
Abstract: Pearl Jephcott (1900-1980), in a research career spanning some forty years, made an outstanding contribution to British social science research. Her key works, included Girls Growing Up (1942), Rising Twenty (1948), Some Young People (1954), Married Women Working (1962), A Troubled Area: Notes on Notting Hill (1964), Time of One’s Own (1967) and Homes in High Flats (1971), alongside numerous other reports and articles. These publications paved the way for many of the subsequent developments that were to come in the sociology of gender, women’s’ studies, urban sociology, the sociology of youth and are replete with originality, innovation and sociological imagination. Yet despite this Jephcott’s work has become neglected – seemingly relegated to second hand booksellers and to ‘studies from the past’. As such in this paper I aim to do three things. First, I begin by providing a biographical sketch of Pearl Jephcott as well as reflecting upon key aspects of her early biography that helped inform her subsequent sociological practice. Second, I will provide an overview of her key works and draw out their contemporary relevance. Finally, I want to reflect on the ‘processes’ of researching a ‘past sociologist’ and the impact the research has had on my own sociological practice.
Open to all and free to attend.
7 to 14 November 2015: (Re)Imagining Youth Exhibition, Glasgow
Youth leisure has been a recurring source of public and political concern since the birth of the teenager in the late 1950s. Traditionally this concern has focused on young people’s use of public space for delinquent and deviant activities. More recently, however, attention has turned to young people’s retreat into private space and their use of digital technologies.
As part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2015, the (Re)Imagining Youth exhibition seeks to explore these issues through a focus on changing representations and realities of youth leisure in two geographically and culturally diverse sites: Glasgow and Hong Kong. Showcasing research funded under the ESRC-RGC bilateral fund, the exhibition draws together images from Pearl Jephcott’s groundbreaking work from the 1960s, alongside contemporary illustrations and photography. Comparing the post-industrial cityscape of Glasgow with the globalised density of Hong Kong, the exhibition will interrogate questions of globalization, inequality and social change in a way that is grounded in the experiences of young people.
From Umbrella Movement to Indyref: Youth, politics and the art of resistance
This is evening event responds to and reflects on the role of young people in the recent Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong and Independence Referendum in Scotland.
7-7.30pm: Introduction, overview of the (R)iY research project, key findings in relation to young people and politics. Short Q&A.
7.30-9pm: Screening of documentary film ‘Lessons in Dissent’, focusing on leader of Umbrella Movement Joshua Wong.
9-10pm: Post-screening discussion on the role of young people in politics in Scotland and Hong Kong (Confirmed participants include: Loki, Glasgow rapper and activist; Matthew Torne, director of ‘Lessons in Dissent’)
For more information, please see: http://www.cca-glasgow.com/programme/55facbe28ef06eb137000001
7 to 31 August 2015: (Re)Imagining Youth Exhibition, Hong Kong
(Re)Imagining Youth: From Glasgow to Hong Kong 青春時代的再想象
In recent years, the word ‘globalization’ has been on everyone’s lips. We see the economic effects of globalization in the city around us: rising inequality, changing job-markets, increased precariousness. And we carry the cultural impacts around with us in our pockets, in our smartphones and iDevices. Young people, of course, experience both the precariousness of the global economy, and the leading-edge of global consumer culture. The concrete impacts of globalization are felt most harshly yet most creatively amongst young people – in their politics, in their identities, in their culture. The changing nature of social life can therefore be glimpsed most fully in understanding young people’s adaptive responses to global trends.
This exhibition seeks to explore these issues through a focus on changing representations and realities of youth leisure in two geographically and culturally diverse research sites: Glasgow and Hong Kong. The exhibition draws together images from the 1960s alongside contemporary photography and illustrations from both sites, based on an ongoing study of youth in public housing, to open up questions of continuity and change in young people’s leisure-time and leisure-space. Comparing the post-industrial spaces of Glasgow with the globalised density of Hong Kong, the exhibition will seek to interrogate questions of globalization, inequality and social change in a way that is grounded in the experiences of young people.
1 to 2 August 2015, Meet the Expert, Glasgow Science Centre
How do you spend your free time?
Come and take part in a hands-on workshop for children, young people and their families, based the (Re)Imagining Youth study! Using research tools employed in the research we will introduce you to social science research and ask you to reflect on experiences of youth leisure and changing urban space.
Meet the Expert is your opportunity to interact with scientists from a broad range of subjects. Get hands on with exciting new innovations, participate in research that local scientists are doing and find out how it might improve our lives in future and discover the science that it all around us. At these workshops the (Re)Imagining Youth team will introduce visitors to social science and share their research on youth leisure and social change in Glasgow and Hong Kong. Participants will be able to try out different research methods and look at images and data generated during the course of the study.
Susan and Lisa will be in the Live Lab area on the 2nd floor from 12 noon to 4pm each day!
9 July 2015: Gender, Youth, Community, Methodology and More: A Symposium Celebrating the Life and Work of Pearl Jephcott, Leicester, UK
(Re)Imagining Pearl Jephcott’s ‘Time of One’s Own’: Methodological challenges and theoretical insights from a comparative study of youth leisure and social change
Pearl Jephcott’s (1967) Time of One’s Own is a classic study of youth leisure which captured the social and leisure habits of 15-19 year-olds at a unique point in social – and sociological – history. The study is remarkable for its prescient analysis of ‘ordinary’ or ‘typical’ youth and its ambitious and innovative research design, which included: individual interviews; group discussions; ‘casual data’ from cafés, pubs, youth groups; diaries; photographs and artistic sketches. We have revisited Jephcott’s pioneering research as part of a wider, comparative study of youth leisure in Glasgow and Hong Kong. This paper focuses on our experience of returning to one of Jephcott’s original fieldsites – Dennistoun in Glasgow – in order to gain an insight into the nature of social change and its impact on young people. It includes consideration of the methodological challenges associated with undertaking such a restudy, alongside illustrated examples of the empirical and theoretical insights to be gained.
7-9 July 2015: Annual Conference of the Leisure Studies Association, Portsmouth, UK
“90% of my free time is job hunting”: The meaning of leisure and free time for young people who are un/underemployed
Young people are being hammered by austerity in Britain. Although the youth unemployment rate has fallen sharply from 20.9% a year ago to 17.8% (August 2014), the IPPR reports there are still 868,000 unemployed young people aged 16 to 24 and 247,000 of them have been looking for work for more than a year. We also have many more not counted in these figures who are underemployed and we have seen a sharp rise in zero-hour contracts. For many young people having a job does not mean stability, security and a regular ‘living-wage’ in fact, quite the opposite. Drawing on data from (Re)Imagining Youth: A comparative study of youth leisure in Glasgow & Hong Kong’ analysing youth leisure in historical and cross-cultural perspective, and building on landmark sociological research from the 1960s (Jephcott 1967, 1971), this paper will explore how leisure is structured by the experience of unemployment and underemployment. What choices and opportunities do unemployed and underemployed young people feel they have in the ways they spend their free-time, at a time when we have a shortage of jobs, high youth unemployment, a rise in ‘in-work poverty’ working poor and austerity cuts to local services? How is leisure time defined by young people today? With less disposable income and high costs of living how do young people now spend their free time? If leisure is reward for, or recreation after, working what does leisure mean for young people who are out of work? How do money, time, resources, irregular working hours, insecurity impact on young peoples’ leisure experiences?
15-17 April 2015: BSA Annual Conference, Glasgow, UK
Changing spatial and temporal dimensions of youth leisure in Glasgow
Two phenomena drive the transformation of contemporary cities: globalization and the rise of new technologies. The move from an industrial-based to a knowledge-based economy, driven by globalized financial services, has resulted in extensive regeneration of vacant and derelict land as well as the erosion of public space by corporate activities. Service sector growth and subsequent casualization, flexibility, and part-time working have impacted on urban rhythms, extending activities into the nighttime. Accompanied by the proliferation of wireless and mobile communication technologies, these shifts have given rise to important changes in city residents’ experience of space and time, such as the transformation of public into private space and the blurring of lines between work and personal life. This paper explores the impact of these developments on the leisure habits of young people in the East End of Glasgow. Building on landmark sociological research from the 1960s (Jephcott 1967), the paper examines the role of space and time in structuring youth leisure, highlighting key changes and continuities. Data is drawn from an ongoing study of youth leisure in Scotland and Hong Kong, involving approximately 150 16-24 year olds. Findings demonstrate that young people have increasingly few free public spaces available to them, resulting in an apparent upsurge in free time spent in private space indoors and online. Where previous home-based interactions and activities would have been subject to adult surveillance and physical space restrictions, young people can to carve out private (and public) space whilst sitting on the sofa next to their parents.
30 March – 1 April 2015: Journal of Youth Studies Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark
Im/mobile Youth: Leisure Frontiers in the Wireless City
In recent years, the ‘global’ question has become central to debate in youth studies. For some, processes of globalisation have created increased homogeneity of culture in geographically diverse communities; for others, the effects of globalisation are both heterogeneous and unpredictable, as global and local cultures conflict and merge. At the same time, however, the globalisation of ‘mobile’ technology has opened up corridors of dialogue and interaction between disparate cultures and communities in ways that are both emergent and inchoate. Drawing on qualitative data from an ambitious comparative study of youth leisure in Glasgow and Hong Kong (funded by the ESRC-RGC Bilateral Fund) this paper seek to develop three key concepts which seek to capture this new patterning of youth leisure in a global context: im/mobility, which seeks to describe the stratified nature of contemporary youth mobilities; leisure frontiers, which emphasises the emergent nature of time-space configurations in online and offline leisure; and wireless city, which examines the spatial relationship between real and virtual leisure-space. Through this conceptual development, the paper will seek out the unique intersections of youth, class and space in the digital era.
Peng-gwo and Oranges: researching youth leisure in Scotland and Hong Kong
This paper presents new qualitative research about youth leisure in two culturally diverse research sites. (Re)Imagining Youth: A Comparative Study of Youth Leisure and Social Change in Scotland & Hong Kong builds on Pearl Jephcott’s landmark sociological research, in Scotland (Time of One’s Own, 1967) and Hong Kong (Jephcott, 1971). Our study seeks to build from Jephcott’s work with cross-cultural comparison being a key feature of the research design. We are able to examine continuity and change in youth experiences over time and between places and to examine youth leisure in contexts of political instability and change (the ‘Umbrella Revolution’ in HK and the Scottish Independence Referendum).
This paper will reflect on some of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological challenges of the research: of comparing Peng-gwo and Oranges. For instance, although we attempted to use the same ethnographic methods in each site (observations, interviews, focus groups, walking interviews, photography) their success varied, reflecting differing cultural traditions and social practices. We will reflect on our experiences conducting comparative, cross-cultural research with young people in the Global South and the Global North.
26 September 2014: Explorathon: Meet the experts, Glasgow Science Centre, Glasgow UK
How do you spend your free time?
Meet the Expert is your opportunity to interact with scientists from a broad range of subjects. Get hands on with exciting new innovations, participate in research that local scientists are doing and find out how it might improve our lives in future and discover the science that it all around us.
How do you spend your free time? Do you think this is similar or different to what people were doing in Glasgow in the 1960s? (Re)Imagining Youth is an innovative social science research study about youth leisure and social change in Scotland and Hong Kong. At these workshops we will share our research methods with you and invite you to tell us what you do in your spare time. You can draw us a picture, write a short story or even interview a friend or relative that you come along with on the day. We will tell you how young people were spending their free time in Glasgow in the 1960s and show pictures and drawings from that time.
3-4 September 2014: Children, Young People and Families in Changing Urban Spaces conference, Northampton, UK
Changing times: Pearl Jephcott and youth leisure, 50 years on
This paper draws on qualitative research from a recent and ongoing study exploring youth leisure in two geographically and culturally diverse research sites: Scotland and Hong Kong. The study builds on Pearl Jephcott’s landmark sociological research: Time of One’s Own (Jephcott, 1967). This was a pioneering study of youth leisure in Scotland which captured the social and leisure habits of 15-19 year-olds at a unique point in social – and sociological – history. Jephcott also spent a year in Hong Kong – then a British colony – surveying work, leisure and educational conditions for children and young people (Jephcott, 1971). In this paper, we will describe the Scottish part of the study, focussing specifically on the East End of Glasgow.
Against a backdrop of urban regeneration and preparations for the Commonwealth Games (July-Aug 2014) – processes which young people may be only tenuously connected – and using a variety of qualitative methods (including walking interviews and photography), we will describe the leisure habits of young people aged 16-24 exploring the similarities and differences since Jephcott’s original study. Specifically, this will involve examining the kinds of leisure opportunities available for young people, the spaces and times these activities take place and the relationships between leisure and family, study and work activities. We are also interested in the extent to which risk, consumerism, popular culture and technology feature in young peoples’ leisure time.
13-19 July 2014: XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan
(Im)mobile Youth?: Globalisation, Leisure and Social Change in Scotland and Hong Kong
In recent years, the ‘global’ question has become central to debate in the social sciences. For some, processes of globalisation have increased mobility of people, culture and technology; for others, access to ‘global’ culture remains sharply stratified by access to resources, with those at the margins rendered increasingly immobile, both spatially and socially. At the same time, however, the globalisation of ‘mobile’ technology has opened up corridors of dialogue and interaction between disparate cultures and communities in ways that are both emergent and inchoate. These new ‘geographies of mobility’ strike at the heart of debates surrounding the lived experiences of globalisation: the tension between ‘spaces of place’ and ‘spaces of flows’. These debates have a particular resonance for young people, whose lives are lived at the precarious frontier of the global economy, and the leading-edge of the global consumer economy.
This paper will engage with these debates through reflection on emergent findings from an ongoing comparative study of youth leisure, funded by the ESRC, in two geographically and culturally diverse research sites: Scotland and Hong Kong. The study adopts a historical and cross-cultural comparative design, building on landmark research carried out in both study locations by the pioneering sociologist Pearl Jephcott; involving concurrent ethnographic fieldwork and data-collection in communities in both locales – including ethnographic observations, stakeholder interviews, focus group discussions, oral history interviews, and on-line data-collection. While methodologically rooted in these ‘spaces of place’, the paper will engage with the new configurations of power, identity, scale and mobility thrown up by the emergent ‘spaces of flows’ that compose the lived experience of youthful global modernities.
23-25 April 2014: BSA Annual Conference, Leeds
(Im)Mobile Methods? Capturing the complexity of young people’s leisure lives in cross-cultural context
While youth scholars are increasingly cognisant of the global dimensions of youth leisure, there have been few efforts to analyse situated practices and lived meanings across time and space. The research that does exist tends toward quantitative comparison, in which cultural specificities and everyday experiences are minimised. Surprisingly few studies have sought to engage with qualitative approaches in multiple research sites – fewer still have moved beyond Western settings for knowledge-production. Our ongoing ESRC-funded study analyses convergences and divergences in youth leisure between Scotland and Hong Kong, building on and developing landmark social research from the 1960s (Jephcott 1967, 1971). Whilst rooted in these ‘spaces of place’, the methods employed aim to engage with new geographies of power, identity and mobility thrown up by the emergent ‘spaces of flows’ that compose the lived experience of global youth culture. The paper will explore key conceptual and methodological issues involved in conducting qualitative, cross-cultural research on young people’s leisure lives, highlighting the need to blend traditional, place-based methods with imaginative and creative methodological approaches incorporating visual, digital and mobile methods.
Keywords: Cross-cultural research, ethnography, digital methods