New article in Sosiological Research Online
The paper emphasises the importance of an historical, intergenerational approach in sociological research. Lives need to be understood in the contexts of particular times and places.
The backcloth to the discussion in the paper is the contemporary disruption of many young people's life course transitions from education to work in Europe, particularly in the Mediterranean countries but also among some young people in the UK. This is the main focus of the paper.
Two concepts are discussed and debates that have attracted attention in social science and the public domain. One concerns the designation of unemployed young people as a 'lost generation' and the other relates to assumptions about 'intergenerational conflicts'. These concepts are prone to ignore the historical specificity of the contexts in which and to which they are applied. They also take those contexts as impervious to political intervention. In short they serve to uphold a rhetoric of inevitability about the present economic, political and public policies relating to young people and intergenerational relations.
In order to demonstrate the importance of historical context on young people's transitions to adulthood, using a life course biographical approach we analyse an empirical example of a father and son taken from an intergenerational family study conducted in the UK. In this case we also adopt an historical intergenerational lens to show how young people's transitions are supported by other family generations and are thus not individualised pathways to adulthood.