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What was the future of the first generation of ‘status0’ youth?
If you’d grown up on a tough council estate, where would you be now?
and valuable perspective on our times …
Rt. Hon. Alun Michael MP
Twenty-five years after first documenting the lives of a group of teenage boys living on one of Europe’s largest council estates, Howard Williamson returns to find out what has become of them in The Milltown Boys Revisited (Berg Publishers, £16.99 paperback original, publication 4th November 2004).
Published in 1981, Howard Williamson’s Five Years was a ground-breaking study of youth, poverty and crime in the 1970s. It documented five years in the lives of a group of teenage boys living on the Milltown estate, where the author himself lived – an estate with a population of over 30,000. At the close of this first book, the Boys had few prospects and bleak futures. Having left school with criminal records and few, if any, qualifications – in an era of declining work opportunities for unskilled labour – they represented the first generation of ‘status0’ youth. According to research and political analysis of the time, the Boys had ‘no future’.
In The Milltown Boys Revisited, Howard Williamson returns to the estate to track down these boys – now in their forties – and narrates their stories in this extraordinary and unique study. Of the original group of sixty-seven boys, seven are dead – not one of natural causes. Williamson tracked down half of those remaining. Here, they tell of their personal, family and social relationships, legal and illegal work, their experiences of the criminal justice system, and money. Contrary to what one might expect, their lives are startlingly diverse.
The Milltown Boys Revisited is a riveting account of life on the edge during the Thatcher and Blair governments. It tells stories of dignity, human betterment and escape, of fatalism on the margins of criminal and drug cultures, and also of getting by in difficult circumstances. It is as much a celebration of individual resilience as an account of risk and vulnerability in the lives of the dispossessed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Howard Williamson works in the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University. He has worked as a practising youth worker and been involved in the development of public policy for young people in Wales, the UK, the European Commission and the Council of Europe. He has researched and lectured on a range of youth issues - including crime, education, training, health and housing – both in the UK and internationally – and was appointed CBE for services to young people in 2002.
‘A compelling account of how young
people navigate the treacherous waters into adulthood, despite rather
ineffective social policies. Williamson’s unique role for the past 30
years as a researcher, practitioner and policy adviser, provides powerful
insights into how our society has helped or hindered the young, especially
those growing up on the margins of the labour market and
‘Williamson’s masterly effort to
produce a longitudinal study (a rarity in youth research) is not only
standard-setting in its methodology, but also an example
Peter Lauritzen, Head of Department, Education
and Training, Research, Communication and Youth Policy, Council of Europe,
Directorate for Youth
NOTE TO EDITORS: Howard Williamson is happy to write articles for the press and is available for interview and comment. To contact him or for further information, please contact:
Fuente at Berg Publishers