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Research Methods in Youth Studies: Doing ‘Difference Differently’

Wednesday 22 November, 2017, University of Melbourne

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Symposium call for papers:

Youth studies research is centrally concerned with social justice. In designing our research for such ends, many of us are grappling with questions of ‘difference’, conceptualised in a variety of ways. Given the fundamental desire of youth research to move beyond stereotypes and dominant discourses about youth, there is a pressing need to revisit how we might access ‘difference’ and ‘different’ stories/data in youth research and to reimagine the potential for our research methods to create a space for ‘different’ voices to emerge. This prefaces the question – what is ‘difference’ for youth themselves, and how we might shape our research to better reflect young people’s sociality of difference from the ground up?

This symposium asks presenters to engage in discussions of methods and difference. It is concerned with how methods shape our thinking about youth and direct us to particular forms of knowledge, which in turn structure our understanding of young lives. The symposium is envisaged not so much as a discussion of ‘how to do’ certain methods, but a conversation of why and what for in terms of methodological perspectives and the knowledge that certain methods produce, which impact on our thinking about youth and difference. In asking panellists to engage with method, we seek dialogue on the theoretical implications of method choices and the confluence and/or disjuncture of method and its theoretical potential in the studies of youth. We take method here to include a range of inquiries, from quantitative-driven youth analysis to qualitative research, ethnography, digital methods, visual and media research, as well as temporal, phenomenological, and experimental research processes.

Questions to be explored might include, but are not limited to:

  • What are successes and limits of methods in terms of conceptualising and addressing ‘difference’ in youth research?
  • How might we think through established sociological axes of inequality in designing youth research which takes account of ‘difference’ and which might enable us to conceptualise ‘difference’ differently?
  • How do certain methods lend themselves to particular types of knowledge, potentially recreating old structures and/or enabling new ones?
  • To what end do/have we used ‘innovative’, experimental, or emergent methods in youth research and where do these methods offer potential or pitfalls in the study of ‘difference’?
  • What might be the implications of these questions for both academic knowledge, as well as knowledge which has public impact in the current political landscape?


Invited speakers: Professor Greg Noble, Professor Anita Harris, Professor Pam Nilan, Dr Julia Coffey, Dr Brady Robards.

Date: 22 November, 2017, Youth Research Centre, Melbourne University.

Abstracts due: July 31. Please send abstracts of 300 words to:

Presenters notified: August 31

Registration: $40 (waged), $20 (unwaged)

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More information: Benjamin Hanckel


Convened by Amy Dobson, Rose Butler, and Benjamin Hanckel, TASA Youth Thematic Group

This event is being held by The Australian Sociological Association’s Sociology of Youth Thematic Group in partnership with the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University. In-kind support has also been provided by the Youth Research Centre, University of Melbourne.