Whole-Gabriel-thesis.pdf (9.61 MB)
Youth, mobility and governance on the North West Coast of Tasmania
thesisposted on 2023-05-26, 00:07 authored by Gabriel, M
In this thesis, I examine the combined issues of regional change and regional youth migration. Using a case-study approach, I trace how the phenomenon of regional youth mobility was problematised, managed and experienced by working families and regional communities in the context of market reform and economic restructuring in Australia throughout the 1990s. My study draws directly on the experiences of three major settlements along the North West (NW) Coast of Tasmania (i.e. Ulverstone, Devenport and Burnie); places that endured substantial contraction in investment and employment, as well as an increase in the out-migration of young people, following the national recession of 1991. In contrast to past regional and community research, I incorporate recent theoretical and methodological revisions within sociology into my analysis. In accordance with these revisions, I examine the discursive aspects of regional youth migration, the governmental aspects of regional youth migration, and I focus attention on young people's experiences and social practices. Here I rely on a range of data sources including local media articles, policy documents, local histories, and secondary statistical data. My analysis is also based on interviews I conducted with service providers, regional leaders, parents and young people from the NW Coast. My research draws attention to the spatial, generational and cultural tensions that arise among working families and within industrial communities during periods of economic restructuring. In general, I found that local debates and major policy initiatives on the Coast during the 1990s were characterised by a persistent tension between national and societal expectations that young people should develop themselves in order to 'get ahead' (which in this period meant leaving the Coast), and local and community expectations that young people should 'stay at home' in order to contribute to the future development of the Coast. I also found that young people had adopted a range of strategies to negotiate and reconcile these competing pressures. In regards to sociological knowledge and practice, my research demonstrates some of the advantages of incorporating recent theoretical and methodological revisions within sociology into the regional and community studies agenda. Here I specify a conceptual framework that other community researchers may adopt and adapt in future. This framework calls on researchers to attend to the discursive, governmental and performative aspects of a particular phenomenon, and to practise a style of sociology that steers away from 'universal theorising' and instead is grounded in specific historical contexts and social practices.
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