National Centre for Research Methods



Locality, Biography and Youth in a Transforming Community

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, Locality, Biography and Youth in a Transforming Community aims to contribute to the sociological understanding of young people's experiences of social, community and economic change through innovative, qualitative enquiry. The research explores the ways in which young people, living with and through community transformation and regeneration make sense of their own life stories, transitions and projected futures. We are presently working in two key sites - central Cardiff and Ebbw Vale, each an area of significant and recent economic transformation.

Our particular focus is on the relationship between biography and locality/landscape. We aim to map the interplay of biographical changes onto physical alteration/regeneration in local settings. To this end, and unconventionally, the project is generating data through interviews conducted in public, outdoors and on the move. Respondents have been invited to take the research team on walking tours of their local area, linking together sites with particular social and biographical resonance. We see this as an innovative and participatory approach, enabling young people to situate their accounts, physically, within the local and community contexts that matter to them. Some of our respondents have also taken us up on the opportunity to create their own visual and sound collages from their walking tours. These include 'soundscape' pieces composed using software and skills provided by the project.

It is anticipated that the research will generate an interesting and unique body of data that will contribute to academic understandings of youth, biography and locality, as well as being of use and interest to policy makers and practitioners working with young people.

Tom Hall is a lecturer in the Cardiff School of Social Sciences. His background and training are in anthropology, and his work on youth, homelessness and public space is informed by a commitment to ethnographic enquiry. He is currently leading an ESRC funded study into the relationships between youth transitions, community transformation and local landscape [link], alongside which he is engaged in ethnographic work with Cardiff's city centre homeless.

Amanda Coffey's research interests span sociology, social policy and education. She has a longstanding commitment to qualitative and ethnographic approaches, and to research on young people and the sociology of transitions. She is currently Director of Qualiti, the Cardiff Node of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods.

Brett Lashua has interests in leisure, young people, popular culture, and especially music and audio production technologies in relation to questions of creativity, representation, and identities. Within the current project, these interests produce resonances with issues of sonic places and spaces, storytelling and soundscape composition, and 'soundwalking' as ethnographic approach.

Click here to link to the project website


ESRC National Centre for Research Methods
ESRC - Economic & Social Research Council