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Youth research in Australia and New Zealand
journal contributionposted on 2004-08-01, 00:00 authored by J Wyn, Anita HarrisAnita Harris
This article draws selectively on youth research in Australia and New Zealand to illustrate the distinctive nature of this emerging field. It reveals a vibrant, interdisciplinary field, which has developed rapidly from its derivative beginnings in the post-war period to a significant and distinctive field that is challenging theoretical and methodological traditions and providing new approaches to understanding youth, society and social change. The article highlights distinctive approaches to youth research that are characterized by two key elements. These are: (a) local conditions under which young people are growing up in Australia and New Zealand, including the ongoing shaping of meaning of indigeneity; and (b) active engagement with international debates on youth. The article first explores the traditions dominating the early conceptualization of youth in Australia and New Zealand, including the Birmingham school in the UK and psychological theories of development from the US. Next, the article describes how these traditions have resulted in a reconceptualization of youth in Australia and New Zealand. This is illustrated in discussions of the way in which discourses of youth and indigeneity and of health have been rethought. The paper also discusses emerging research traditions in the area of new identities and youth subjectivities, on young people's participation in civic society and their engagement with global and virtual youth cultures.