Critical moments? The importance of timing in young people's narratives of transition

Thomson, Rachel and Holland, Janet (2015) Critical moments? The importance of timing in young people's narratives of transition. In: Wyn, Johanna and Cahill, Helen (eds.) Handbook of children and youth studies. Springer Singapore, pp. 723-733. ISBN 9789814451147

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In this chapter, we explore the idea of the “critical moment” as a tool for understanding young people’s narratives of transition. The chapter draws on the 15-year UK-based empirical study “Inventing Adulthoods” which employed longitudinal qualitative methods to explore the process of growing into adulthood in five contrasting locations of the UK. The prospective design of the research enabled the researchers to capture change over time and the identity work involved in the reworking of narratives. The idea of the “critical moment” arose early in the study as a way of capturing the biographical significance of particular moments and their consequences. Drawing on a late modern theoretical model provided by Giddens’ idea of the “fateful moments” within the “reflexive project of self,” we show how we operationalized “critical moments” as a tool for identifying, mapping, and comparing narratives. This approach enabled us to capture the importance of timing in life events and their consequences. As time passed and narratives accrued, we progressively gained insight into the relationship between critical moments as a narrative device in individual interviews and the slower deeper processes at play in shaping biographies and life chances. In this chapter, we revisit analyses of critical moments with the benefit of hindsight, drawing some conclusions regarding the relationship between the life that is lived and the life that is told, suggesting the value of a biographical approach within the interdisciplinary field of youth studies.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Social Work and Social Care
Subjects: H Social Sciences
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Depositing User: Claire Prater
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2015 14:44
Last Modified: 01 May 2019 10:16
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