Trying Work: Gender, Youth, and Work Experience

Trying Work: Gender, Youth, and Work Experience

Trying Work: Gender, Youth, and Work Experience

Trying Work: Gender, Youth, and Work Experience

Excerpt

In the four years from 1978 hundreds of thousands of young, working-class Scots had their first taste of working life courtesy of the Manpower Services Commission's (MSC) Youth Opportunities Programme (YOP). The process was continued and expanded into the 1980s with the Youth Training Scheme (YTS). Through both of these schemes the process of young people's entry to the labour market was fundamentally and radically changed.

While much has been written about the impact of YOP and YTS on the apprenticeship system, education and industry, there has been almost no attention paid to understanding and detailing the effect of such major changes on the lives of young people themselves. This book is an attempt to put this right. It is first and foremost a book about working-class teenagers in Scotland. It consists of five months' participant observation of young people taking part in an MSC training workshop. It took place in 1981/2, two years into Mrs Thatcher's government and several years into the deepest recession for half a century which brought levels of unemployment unprecedented in the post-war period. My aim was to document the lives of these young people, to look at how they made their relationships to each other and to the workshop.

Firstly I would like to look at what other people have written about young people, their culture, the MSC and the nature of its involvement in their lives.

YOUTH CULTURE

My interest in youth culture originated in the work of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) in Birmingham. Work produced there in the 1970s had direct links back to classic American deviancy studies of the 1950s. Books like W. F. Whyte Street Corner Society (1955) and Albert Cohen Delinquent Boys (1955) were part of this tradition. Studies like these looked at the lives and the detailed culture of working- class boys. Based on a methodology of participant observation, they marked at the time a break with mainstream sociology. The Birmingham . . .

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