TRALAYA is an interdisciplinary research group affiliated with the Department of Education at the Faculty of Humanities, Sports and Educational Sciences. Its members have diverse academic backgrounds, in subject areas such as career guidance, cultural studies, psychology, social pedagogy, social work and sociology.
We want to understand the contrasts – both experiences of continuity, and experiences of discontinuity and marginalisation – in the transitions that young people make. Our research is directed towards both how young people themselves experience, reflect upon and negotiate transitions, and how different professions and professionals act, organise and interpret these transitions.
An important understanding for us is that transitions, such as those that take place in the family, education systems and leisure time, are not uniform: they will vary, based on ethnicity, gender, media consumption, socioeconomic status and different stylistic and youth cultural taste preferences.
From the age of fourteen, and for the next few years, these transitions form a broader and more complex spectrum, both in a psychological, social and biological sense. We seek to acquire a direct and first-hand understanding of how the transitions are experienced during these years - both for better and for worse.
We want to gather experiences from the ‘bottom-up’ – for both their intrinsic value, and in strengthening the understandings and insights amongst researchers, and amongst key professionals in the various professional systems in which young people are involved. These professions include the education sector, and sectors where various forms of socially- and culturally-oriented youth work is undertaken.
Better understandings between educators and youth workers
An important point for our research group is to view young people's school and leisure time in context. We also want to contribute so that educators and youth workers can gain better insights into each other's competencies, opportunities and professional challenges.
In our view, the importance of good youth work, whether orientated towards individuals, groups or communities, must be recognised to a greater extent for its social significance - in the same way as teachers' important efforts are in educating young people.
As a research group, our ambition is to understand these fields in a broader societal context. We want our research to be rooted and developed within close dialogue between these sectors, in order to develop a mutual and dynamic understanding of how young people's lives are shaped and experienced.
Involvement of young people
In the longer term, we also want to be able to challenge the traditional and limiting ways in which professionals meet young people, which often preclude the real and active participation of young people in solving the problems that they face. Hence, we want to involve young people to a greater extent, and also to involve representatives from professional environments who want to work in different ways than they have done previously, in order to create a more practice-involved and democratic approach to knowledge about young people.
Ultimately, we hope that our research can contribute to a critique of traditional perceptions that transitions in the existing sense are well adapted to a given age, a given cohort or a given demographic group.
Our international orientation will also help us, together with partners from other countries, to interrogate the belief that the prevailing systems and transitions are ‘natural’ and ‘correct’ for different cultural circles and different nationalities.
TRALAYA's research uses a wide range of research methods, including both quantitative and qualitative approaches. On the qualitative side, we place great emphasis on developing the traditional interview format into a range of new possibilities. We make use of biographical narratives, community-based participatory action research, and interpretive qualitative inquiry.
For the students who participate in the research group, we will place emphasis on developing workshops which will help participants develop their interviewing skills in the directions of active and more effective listening, and demonstrating greater degrees of reflexivity and spontaneity.