Researching youth in troubling times: Mess, method and ethical puzzles

Supported by the BSA Youth Study Group, in association with the Leeds Centre for Interdisciplinary Youth Research, this event is intended to facilitate reflection on how we ‘do’ youth research.

A BSA Youth Study Group event

The experiences and conditions of youth and young adulthood are a source of great interest within the discipline of sociology and beyond. The study of young people’s lives, transitions and aspirations has long been conceived as offering productive and unique opportunities to untangle wider processes of social change. As such youth research remains diverse and vibrant, particularly that which is concerned with the complex, and often fraught, issues of youth aspirations and transitions. Like all fields of social research, however, studies of youth are beset with a range of messy and discomfiting methodological and ethical puzzles, which are often hidden from view and ‘cleansed’ in the write-up of research publications. 

Supported by the BSA Youth Study Group, in association with the Leeds Centre for Interdisciplinary Youth Research, this one-day event is intended to facilitate reflection on how we ‘do’ youth research on young people’s transitions and aspirations, and the (ethical, methodological and emotional) challenges such work might present in contemporary times. In doing so, the event seeks to contribute to the on-going dialogue about the sometimes-messy conditions of knowledge production in which youth researchers operate.  We invite papers from youth researchers in sociology and sister disciplines, and across the career stage, to share the ethical and methodological challenges they have encountered or are currently grappling with. Papers may cover topics including but not limited to:

  • Recruitment, participation and informed consent
  • Researcher-Gatekeeper relations
  • Power and positionality in research
  • Navigating institutional ethics frameworks
  • Emotion, affect and the research encounter
  • The challenges of longitudinal qualitative research
  • The potential and limitations of creative, visual and mobile methods
  • Representing youth?: The ethics of representations and ‘giving voice’
  • ‘Impact’, dissemination and the challenges of ‘public sociology’ in youth research

Professor Tracy Shildrick (School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds; Co-Director of the Leeds Centre for Interdisciplinary Youth Research) will reflect upon, and consolidate, the key themes from the day.

There will be a small registration fee for attendees and participants, including a reduced rate for BSA members and concessionary rates for PGR students.

Please send a short abstract (250 words plus a brief bio) to by April 14th 2017. Please send these as a word.doc attachment (with the file name including your surname/s).