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Youth, mobility and governance on the North West Coast of Tasmania

Gabriel, M 2004 , 'Youth, mobility and governance on the North West Coast of Tasmania', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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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.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Gabriel, M
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