In April 2019, Dr David Farrugia (Newcastle University, NSW) and I started working on a proposal for an edited book on the lives of young people living beyond the urban metropolis. This proposal has now been accepted by Bristol University Press and we are excited to work with the 13 contributors on the book. The working title is ‘Youth beyond the city’ and a core motivation for the book is the preoccupation with urban youth in youth sociology, leaving young people not living in urban environments in the shadow. Below is the call for chapters that we circulated.

In both academic research and social policy discussions, young people are imagined as key signposts for global social transformations, figured as representing the vanguard of new forms of social life. However, research on young people’s lives – for instance on educational participation, work, cultural activities and crime – assumes the ‘global city’ as the more or less unproblematised backdrop for these aspects of youth. The urban metropolis is the taken for granted space for youth labour markets, contemporary youth cultures and changing forms of youth sociality both on and offline. When attention is paid to young people beyond the metropolis, this is often in terms of disadvantage in relation to urban young people, and in terms of the capacity for young people to migrate to the urban metropolis in search of education, work and the valorised ways of being young. In the process, young people beyond the global city are relegated to a position of epistemological marginality.

The purpose of this edited collection is to think critically and productively from the position of marginality that young people beyond the global city occupy. The book pursues a research agenda that makes visible new economic, cultural and political processes that shape youth, and that are invisible when looking from the ‘centre’ of the urban metropolis. In particular, the book is aimed at thinking critically and productively about space and the materialities of place, including how these materialities contribute to connections and divergences shaping youth in a global context. From this position, the book aims to create new, critical perspectives on globalisation and mobility, and as well as ongoing research agendas on education, work, leisure and consumption. With this agenda, the book reaches out to existing priorities in the field of youth studies, including the need for new research agendas inclusive of young people in the global south. In the process, the book wishes to ‘decentre’ the dominant urban focus in youth sociology and devote our attention to young people living beyond the metropolis, whether this is peri-urban, regional or rural spaces, in the Global North or the Global South.

The editors of this collection welcome chapter proposals drawing on research that explores young people’s lives as embedded in the social relationships and material conditions that shape identities and frame imagined futures outside the global city. We wish to emphasise the productive role of peri-urban, regional and rural places in the social transformations explored in the sociology of youth, as well as the role of these places in producing patterns of mobility, belonging, sense of place and the production of the local. In so doing, we want to advance the ways in which place is often treated in youth research. We approach spaces beyond the global city as material as well as abstract, and in so doing examine young lives as ‘events in space’ (c.f., Massey). Moreover, we situate the book in times of social transformation where may peri-urban and regional areas are undergoing radical economic restructuring in the aftermath of deindustrialisation and broader social-economic changes. This has enormous impact on the opportunities available to young people living in these areas as they navigate their everyday lives and imagined futures.

Chapters for the book are coming in around Mid 2020, and the deadline with Bristol University Press is in April 2021.

I will post more news about the book in due course.

Photo by Felix Wiedemann on Unsplash

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