Pressler, Shirley J., Hilton, N. and Gavin, Helen (2009) 'I can't wear my cosy pink hoodie to keep warm when I go to the shop for my mum': a phenomenological exploration of being a young person in the UK in 2008. In: University of Huddersfield Research Festival 2009, 23 March - 2 April 2009, University of Huddersfield, UK.. (Unpublished)

“People look down on you, and automatically assume you are a bad person”.

A quote from a young person interviewed on how she thought older people viewed youngsters. This viewpoint is particularly pertinent, as a recent UN report (2008) concluded that the UK was in breach of the human rights of young people, not only through the use of Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs), mosquito devices and incarceration, but also in the disproportionately negative portrayal of young people in the media. The research reported here worked within an emancipatory paradigm, whilst utilising phenomenological methodology to explore the perception of the portrayal of young people in society. This included views of media portrayal and personal experience explorations of a group of young people in the UK in 2008.
Six 16-18 year olds participated in interviews exploring their views about the portrayal of teenagers and any subsequent impact this had for them in terms of their perceptions and likely behaviour. Overall, thematic analysis suggested that age related negative stereotypes were perceived, giving rise to feelings of exclusion and disempowerment. Although parental and peer relationships were reported to be good, some further, related tensions arose between the competing expectations from parents and peers, and within peer expectations perceived in terms of both positive and negative consequences. Perceived competing potential behavioural outcomes were also discussed, in relation to age related societal and legislative permissions associated with childhood to adulthood transition, together with variable behaviour displayed amongst role models. The desire to be included, accepted and valued in terms of personhood, along with a reduction in containment and stress related pressure was also expressed.
The analyses were interpreted and conclusions drawn in respect of psychological impact and potential consequences in relation to related functionality (e.g. Jenks, 2005; Palmer, 2006) as well as ‘well-being’ frameworks projecting a better way forward (e.g. Eccles, 2002; Pressler, 2009; Stainton-Rogers, 2004).

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