How have young people's lives changed over the past two decades? Are traditional social divisions such as class and gender still useful in helping predict life chances and experiences? How do young people cope with increased feelings of vulnerability and stress? Social changes occurring in recent years have had an enormous impact on the lives of young people. The apparent weakening of traditional social structures has led social theorists like Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens to argue that we have entered a new era of late modernity in which individuals struggle to reflexively construct biographies in a context where new risks impinge on all aspects of life. This book examines modern theoretical interpretations of social change in relation to young people and provides an overview of their experiences in a number of key contexts, such as education, employment, the family, leisure, health, crime and politics. The authors consider whether the traditional parameters which were previously understood as structuring the life chances and experiences of young people are still relevant, and examine the extent to which "individualisation" and "risk" convey an accurate picture of the changing lives of the young. They argue that life in late modernity revolves around an epistemological fallacy: although social structures, such as class, continue to shape life chances, these structures tend to become increasingly obscure as collectivist traditions weaken and invidualist values intensify. As a consequence of these changes, people come to regard the social world as unpredictable and filled with risks that can only be negotiated on an individual level, even though chains of human interdependence remain intact. This comprehensive and up-to-date overview is designed to provide an essential text for undergraduate courses on the sociology of youth, education, work, stratification, and supplementary reading for other courses, such as on leisure, crime and health as well as vocational courses in youth and community work.
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Andy Furlong is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, University of Glasgow and Director of the Youth, Education and Employment Research Unit. He has written extensively about young people in modern Britain and his recent books include Schooling for Jobs (Avebury 1993) and Growing Up in a Classless Society? (Edinburgh University Press 1992). Fred Cartmel is a Research Associate in the Youth, Education and Employment Research Unit at the University of Glasgow. He has written a number of articles on youth and education.Review:
"...the succinct, clearly written sections in the central chapters of the book are extremely useful...But the book is most interesting in its attempt to test currently fashionable theses about the nature of social change in the late twentieth century against evidence about contemporary transitions to adulthood." - Youth & Policy "...a very accessible, well-evidenced and important book...succeeds in raising important questions in a new and powerful way." - Journal of Education and Work "This is a well crafted and thought provoking contribution to theoretical discussion on youth and their transition to adulthood. It also has much to offer policymaker and practitioner audiences." - Local Government Studies
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