Journal Article

Distant cities, travelling tales and segmented young lives: making and remaking youth exclusion across time and place

Published 25 September 2015 / By Jo-Anne Dillabough, Julie McLeod, & Caroline Oliver

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A substantial body of research suggests that incipient moral anxiety is growing in relation to excluded youth, and is manifestly cross-national in nature. While these anxieties are often assumed to be most evident in recent times, historians of childhood and youth persistently remind us of the long history of anxiety recorded in the public record about disadvantaged urban youth [e.g. Gleason. 2013. Small Matters: Canadian Children in Sickness and Health, 1900–1940. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press]. However, the degree and nature of local differentiation in the forms of moral anxiety being generated have yet to be systematically researched in relation to youth exclusion in diverse city spaces. There is also limited research on how senior members living in the same city spaces, many of whom were excluded as young people, remember and re-represent – through individual and collective memory – what it was like to be young in the past [Cubbit. 2007. History and Memory. Manchester: Manchester University Press]. Drawing on cross national studies and diverse sources, including oral history accounts, media representations, and interviews with young people, this article explores the perspectives of low-income young people living at the fringe of two different urban centres and who identified as having experienced varying degrees of educational and/or social exclusion. We argue that such multi-layered analyses challenge the binaries often invoked about inclusion, exclusion and marginalised youth, particularly concerning questions about history, memory, and the bordering and classification practices of individuals [see Balibar. 2009a. We, the People of Europe?: Reflections on Transnational Citizenship. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press; Rumford. 2011. Citizens and Borderwork in Contemporary Europe. London: Routledge]. More specifically, the article analyses representations of exclusion, in the present and past, in reference to what Balibar, We, the People of Europe?: Reflections on Transnational Citizenship, has termed ‘borderwork'. Overall, we argue that narratives of risk, forms of border anxiety [Newman. 2006. “Borders and Bordering: Towards an Interdisciplinary Dialogue.” European Journal of Social Theory 9 (2): 171–186] and the consequent moralising claims made about economically disadvantaged youth are crucial in understanding how youth exclusion is represented and remembered, and made and remade across time and place.


Dillabough, J.A., McLeod, J. & Oliver, C. 2015. Distant cities, travelling tales and segmented young lives: making and remaking youth exclusion across time and place, International Journal of Inclusive Education. 19 (6): 659-676