The COVID-19 pandemic and youth in recent, historical perspective: more pressure, more precarity

Robert MacDonald, Hannah King, Emma C Murphy, Wendy Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Young people have faced some of the hardest social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns. Taking a critical Youth Studies perspective, we draw on research with nearly 1000 16-to-30-year olds in North East England in order to rectify the ‘structured absence’ of young people’s viewpoints in national media and political commentary about the pandemic. Our findings contradict narratives about young people as lockdown ‘rule breakers’ and demonstrated the immediate pressures that they faced vis-à-vis family and social life, well-being, and education and employment. Going further than most recent COVID-19 research – and in disagreement with the notion of a so-called COVID generation – we locate these pressures of the moment within the already hostile social-economic conditions that existed for young people in the UK pre-COVID and a discussion of the pressures to come, particularly in terms of longer-term labour market conditions and outcomes. Amidst very rapidly changing political and economic circumstances in the UK, continuing precarity for young people seems to be one certainty. We conclude by identifying some important priorities for youth research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-740
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Issue number5
Early online date2 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2024


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