The New Sociology of Childhood has generated a significant literature that illustrates children's agency in a wide range of contexts and settings but which oversimplifies the notion of agency. This paper develops Paul Hoggett's work on agency in the context of disadvantage to demonstrate the ways in which young people's agency is contingent on time and environmental contexts. We argue that the agency that marginalised young people enact can both implicitly pay homage to neo-liberal ideals of individual autonomy and self, while simultaneously resisting other neo-liberal ideals relating to parental and family responsibilities. This ambiguity in young people's relationship to neo-liberal ideals highlights a contradiction inherent in the same ideals, where expectations of young people with respect to their human capital development are placed uneasily alongside the notion that families are key socialising agents of young people.
- young people