Young People in the Labour Market: Past, Present, Future, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Young People in the Labour Market

Past, Present, Future, 1st Edition

By Andy Furlong, John Goodwin, Henrietta O'Connor, Sarah Hadfield, Stuart Hall, Kevin Lowden, Réka Plugor


142 pages | 19 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780367354787
pub: 2019-06-05
Hardback: 9781138798069
pub: 2017-10-10
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Levels of suffering among young people have always been much higher than governments suggest. Indeed, policies aimed at young workers have often been framed in ways that help secure conformity to a new employment landscape in which traditional securities have been progressively removed. Increasingly punitive welfare regimes have resulted in new hardships, especially among young women and those living in depressed labour markets.

Framed by the ideas of Norbert Elias, Young People in the Labour Market challenges the idea that changing economic landscapes have given birth to a ‘Precariat’ and argues that labour insecurity is more deep-rooted and complex than others have suggested. Focusing on young people and the ways in which their working lives have changed between the 1980s recession and the Great Recession of 2008/2009 and its immediate aftermath, the book begins by drawing attention to trends already emerging in the preceding two decades.

Drawing on data originally collected during the 1980s recession and comparing it to contemporary data drawn from the UK Household Longitudinal Study, the book explores the ways in which young people have adjusted to the changes, arguing that life satisfaction and optimism are linked to labour market conditions.

A timely volume, this book will be of interest to undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as postdoctoral researchers who are interested in fields such as Sociology, Social Policy, Management and Youth Studies.


This pathbreaking book provides a way out of the conceptual and policy cul-de-sac on precarious work for young people, that has dominated research and policy formation. Driven by the question 'how did precarious work come to be the "new normal" for young people?', the authors trace changing working conditions in the UK, Denmark and Germany from the mid-1970s. This ‘long view’ exposes the suffering inflicted on young people by successive government policies and sets a new research and policy framework within which young people’s lives can be built.

Johanna Wyn, Director of the Youth Research Centre, Australia

Some of these authors have been holding the flame for youth studies for the last thirty years. Here, in a new must-read book analysing changes over that time, they show how vulnerable youth should no longer be regarded as a generation ‘lost’ to the labour market. Instead, they are now a ‘liminal’ generation in the labour market, caught betwixt and between by precarious employment.

Chris Warhurst, Professor and Director of the Warwick Institute for Employment Research, Warwick University, UK

An ambitious contribution that will shape how we understand the worlds of work of young people. From YOPs and YTSs in the 1980s to zero-hours contracts in the contemporary post-‘great recession’ UK marked by youth unemployment, underemployment and economic instability, Furlong et al. unpack the alternatives to long-term full-time employment that have been available to young people. Their empirically-grounded analysis of change, and continuities, in the labour market offers a critical engagement with the influential notion of ‘precariat’. They develop instead a new model, with three ‘zones of (in)security’, to provide a more nuanced theoretical approach to the diverse working lives of young people.

Tracey Warren, Professor of Sociology, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham, UK

Table of Contents

List of figures


List of table


The authors





Looking back in order to look forward

Ken Roberts


Understanding the changing youth labour market



From the ‘golden age’ to neo-liberalism



The great transformation and the punitive turn



Towards a new normality: Work and unemployment in contemporary Britain



The age of liminality



Towards a post-liminal labour market



Is it inevitable that young people have to carry these costs of social change?

David N. Ashton


Appendix I



About the Authors

Andy Furlong was Professor of Social Inclusion and Education and Dean for Research in the College of Social Science at the University of Glasgow, as well as Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne and Conjoint Professor at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

John Goodwin is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Leicester.

Henrietta O’Connor is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Leicester.

Sarah Hadfield is a Researcher at the Institute of Mental Health, Nottingham. She worked as a Researcher at the University of Leicester when this book was formulated.

Stuart Hall is a Senior Researcher in the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change at the University of Glasgow.

Kevin Lowden is a Senior Researcher in the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change at the University of Glasgow.

Réka Plugor works as a Researcher at the University of Leicester.

About the Series

Youth, Young Adulthood and Society

The Youth, Young Adulthood and Society series approaches youth as a distinct area, bringing together social scientists from many disciplines to present cutting-edge research monographs and collections on young people in societies around the world today. The books present original, exciting research, with strongly theoretically- and empirically-grounded analysis, advancing the field of youth studies. Originally set up and edited by Andy Furlong, the series presents interdisciplinary and truly international, comparative research monographs.

Contacts for the series:

Professor Tracy Shildrick:

Professor John Goodwin:

Professor Henrietta O'Connor:

Emily Briggs at Routledge:

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General