In 2017, I graduated with a First-Class BA in English Literature and Sociology from The University of Leeds and completed a teaching placement year as part of my degree. I then continued my studies at Leeds, graduating in 2018 with an MSc Distinction in Inequalities and Social Science. Following my MSc, I was appointed a full-time position as a Research Assistant and the Ann McPherson Fellow at The Health Experiences Research Group (HERG), University of Oxford. Here, I assisted senior researchers with qualitative research into experiences of health, illness, and well-being. During my time at HERG, I carried out qualitative secondary analysis of interviews from the HERG data archive exploring young people’s experiences of depression. I found young people repeatedly drew on conflicting concepts and discourse surrounding ‘youth’ and ‘being young’ to explain and make sense of their experiences; for example, the normalisation of depression as ‘inevitable hormonal angst’ that ‘will pass’ and the dismissal of ‘real’ depression because ‘you’re young, what have you got to be depressed about’. I presented my project, ‘‘You’re young, it’s gonna happen, you’ll grow out of it’’: Exploring how young people make sense of depression among conflicting discourses surrounding ‘youth’ at the September 2019 BSA Annual Medical Sociology Conference. After completing my Research Assistant post, I was awarded a 2019 Leeds Doctoral Scholarship which gave me the opportunity to begin PhD study in The School of Sociology and Social Policy here at Leeds.
My PhD research focuses broadly on young adult transitions to (in)dependence in the UK. Specifically, I am interested in the experiences of those in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties who have not secured residential independence and have remained in or returned to the parental home for a prolonged period of time. Intensified by the 2007/2008 global financial crisis, my research is situated in a landscape of austerity and welfare cuts which have hit young people particularly hard. Across Europe, transitions to adulthood have become increasingly precarious compared with previous generations and this is likely to be exacerbated further by the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Media anecdotes often present narratives of ‘baby boomers versus Millennials’, with accounts of young people whose futures have been ‘stolen’ by older generations. Particularly in the UK, deteriorating housing opportunities and rising costs are central to the conversation surrounding inter-generational inequalities. However, over-emphasis on a so-called ‘war’ between older and younger generations deflects attention from arguably more pressing intra-generational inequalities between young adults. Indeed, barriers to independence and autonomy are not experienced equally, but are mediated on a classed continuum of choice and constraint. Amidst cuts to housing welfare in the UK, there has been a policy push for parents to ‘step up’ and house young adults until they are financially independent, reflecting normative assumptions about parental responsibility and obligation. There is also an assumption that all young people have the option to ‘fall back’ on the ‘safety net’ of the parental home, allowing the state to absolve responsibility for support. In reality however, whilst many families may wish to provide support there are practical and financial constraints preventing them from doing so.
Qualitatively exploring parental co-residence across diverse socioeconomic circumstances, my thesis seeks to illuminate the ways in which this living arrangement and its attached meanings for young adults are mediated by social class location and trajectory. Emphasising parents’ unequal capacity to facilitate and resource young adults’ transitions to independence, I aim to understand the ways in which choice and constraint play out in this ‘dependent’ context, asking questions about young adults’ wellbeing and orientations to their future. Ultimately, my research seeks insights into how the ever-increasing need for parents to facilitate young adults’ transitions to independence serves to perpetuate inequalities.
My wider research interests include:
- Youth, family, life course trajectories & transitions
- Social perspectives on health and well-being
- Qualitative methodology
- I have taught on the Level 1 module ‘Understanding & Researching Contemporary Society’ in The School of Sociology and Social Policy at Leeds.
- I have also taught on the ‘Short Courses in Qualitative Research Methods’ programme at The Health Experiences Research Group, University of Oxford.
- Twitter: @emmahyde1994
- MSc Inequalities & Social Science
- BA English Literature & Sociology (Industry)
Research groups and institutes
- Centre for Research on Families, The Life Course and Generations