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Title: The insecurity of 'the commons' : an ethnographic study of a youth club in the North of England
Author: Laverty, L. K.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6058 8301
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2016
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It is argued that children and young people are facing a period of disinvestment from society as they bear the brunt of welfare and social cuts that restricts their ability to participate meaningfully in their lives. This study explores what really matters to young people living in an area hard hit by Government cuts. In order to do so, I adopted an interpretivist qualitative approach that would allow young people to direct the topic of the research. What follows is an ethnographic account of a fourteen-month period of ethnographic fieldwork, using flexible participatory methods including photo-elicitation and focus groups, at a youth club in a disadvantaged neighbourhood of a mid-size town in the North of England. The findings reflect the diverse, and situated, interests and concerns of young people. Firstly, the role of place was important as young people negotiated conflicting views of the neighbourhood as both safe and unsafe. Importantly, it shows that young people, who already experience disadvantage, are subject to greater insecurity through austerity measures. Second, young black men in the neighbourhood are subject to increased surveillance that excludes them from public space. Therefore, young people use the youth centre as a way to manage this exclusion, and participate in activities that allow them can gain value where otherwise they are granted none. Thirdly, food practices at the youth centre emerge as a care economy amongst young people that help them to manage the conditions of food poverty. Lastly, strategies of inclusion and exclusion around gender norms demonstrate the limitations of belonging. Throughout each chapter, I show how inclusion and exclusion practices emerge, and how these processes relate to age, gender, race, and class. In conclusion, this thesis considers the conditions that enable or constrain young people’s ability to participate in their neighbourhood, and the practices that young people use to establish and maintain worth and inclusion. I show that belonging is conditional and hierarchical, and as much about exclusion as inclusion. Together these findings show the importance of paying attention to young people’s everyday lives and experiences that are fundamental to an understanding of health and inequalities.
Supervisor: Robinson, J. ; Kierans, C. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral