The youth of today' has long been a source of curiosity to older generations, and sociologists and criminologists are no exception to this trend. Over the past 100 years, there have been attempts both to explain society's fascination with the younger generation, and to delineate young people's experiences within a theoretical framework. Young people have always been discussed as troublesome, or in trouble, and this module takes this as its main theme. However, youthful crime and indiscretion cannot be divorced from the transition from youth to adulthood. Therefore, we will also spend some time on the more general sociological issues that have arisen in the field of the sociology of youth. Of course, the sub-discipline's subject matter is something we all know about from our own experience: indeed, most if not all of you taking this unit would be considered prime targets for contemporary sociologists of youth!
This module is designed to introduce you to some of the central themes and concepts in the sociology of youth and criminological concerns with youth crime, and to some of the key substantive concerns of contemporary youth researchers. With regard to the former, we will explore the social construction of youth and youth crime, dominant discourses surrounding the study of youth, subcultural approaches to youth, the youth transitions tradition, and more recent approaches drawing on theories of reflexive modernisation, which have explored the nature and extent of processes of detraditionalisation and individualisation in young people’s lives. Along the way, we will touch upon the following substantive topics: youth subcultures, youth cultures in the context of globalisation, the youth labour market and what the impact is on young people excluded from it, household formation, the youth justice system, social exclusion and civic engagement, the rise of individualised lifestyles, debates concerning gender convergence, ‘post-feminism’, the purported ‘crisis in masculinity’ and broader generational change. Where possible, the course will shed further light on these themes by taking a cross-cultural perspective, with examples both from the UK and from a variety of international contexts, including a final session on young people in post-socialist Eastern Europe.