Between cosmopolitanism and the locals: mobility as a resource in the transition to adulthood

Thomson, Rachel (2005). Between cosmopolitanism and the locals: mobility as a resource in the transition to adulthood. Young: Nordic Journal of Youth Research, 13(4) pp. 327–342.



How useful is the distinction between cosmopolitans and locals in understanding the place of mobility and travel within contemporary youth transition? In this paper we draw on a longitudinal qualitative study of young people in the UK, suggesting that localities have their own particular economy of mobility, operating at levels of the material, cultural and fantasy. In different localities young people are tied to the immediacy of physical and social space to differing degrees, and that factors such as ethnicity, gender, sexuality and social class are significant in this. We illustrate and explore these themes through two longitudinal case studies in order to see how resources and agency are animated in practice. We conclude by arguing against the use of fixed typologies, suggesting that young people are pulled by competing forces in relation to notions of home, tradition and fixedness on one hand and of mobility, escape and transformation on the other. The ways in which these tensions are negotiated at the biographical level is firmly embedded in gendered projects of self through which young people work through the kind of men and women that they can be, drawing on family, community and cultural resources in the process.

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