Structure and Agency in Young People’s Lives brings together different takes on the possible combinations of agency and structure in the life course, thus rejecting the notion that young individuals are the single masters of their lives, but also the view that their social destinies are completely out of their hands.

‘How did I get here?’ This is a question young people have always asked themselves and is often asked by youth researchers. There is no easy and single answer. The lives that are told, on one hand, and their interpretation, on the other, may have the underlying idea of 'own doing' or the idea of 'social determinism' or, more accurately and frequently, a combination of the two.

This collection constitutes a comprehensive map on how to make sense of youth’s biographies and trajectories, it questions and reshapes the discussion on the role and responsibility of youth studies in the understanding of how people juggle opportunities and constraints, and contributes to escaping what Furlong and Cartmel identified as the "epistemological fallacy of late modernity", in which young people find themselves responsible for collective failures or inevitabilities. It can thus interest students, researchers and professors, youth workers and all of those who work for and with young people.

chapter |11 pages


History, biography, endurance and empathy: An introductory (thank you) note to the book

part I|86 pages

Beyond the agency–structure divide

chapter 1|17 pages

Challenging the structure/agency binary

14Youthful culture, labour and embodiments

chapter 2|15 pages

Subjective understandings of young people’s agency

Concepts, methods and lay frames of reference

chapter 4|21 pages

The go-between

Young-ish trajectories through a life course agency–structure lens

chapter 5|16 pages

Redefining the link between structure and agency

The place of time

part II|100 pages

Agency and structure in historical and generational context

chapter 6|17 pages

Structure and agency

100An old couple in a new era of prolonged education-to-work transitions amid rising inequalities and declining life chances

chapter 7|14 pages

Making a living in a provincial hometown

Locality as a structuring landscape for agency

chapter 9|16 pages

Fighting adversity with different weapons

Youth, structure and agency in Portugal during the crisis

chapter 10|20 pages

Certainties and control in the lives of young men

Stories from three research projects

chapter 11|15 pages

Structure and agency in life stories

How to become a gang member

part III|66 pages

Structured agency, reflexivity and action

chapter 12|17 pages

Reflexivity in late modernity

200Understanding young lives in the context of social change

chapter 13|18 pages

What are the chances?

Coping with contingent events in youth

chapter 14|15 pages

Youth pathways as process

How factor configuration, time dynamics and reflexivity combine together

chapter 15|15 pages

There’s always tomorrow

Strengthening agency and challenging structure through youth work and youth policy