Young people, social change and the negotiation of moral authority

Thomson, Rachel and Holland, Janet (2002). Young people, social change and the negotiation of moral authority. Children and Society, 16(2) pp. 103–115.



This paper presents some of the main findings of the study ‘Youth values: identity, diversity and social change’, focussing on the ways in which young people aged between 11 and 16 negotiate moral authority. It begins by discussing young people’s perceptions of social change, identifying narratives of both progress and decline. The structure of young people’s values are then briefly described, including differences relating to gender, location, social class and age. The factors that contribute to the legitimacy of moral authority in young people’s eyes are explored through young people’s accounts of school discipline, bullying, parenting and media violence. The paper draws on a range of data sources including questionnaires, focus group discussions, individual interviews and research assignments in which young people undertook their own interviews with adults.

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