Young People between Uncertainty and Agency. An Analysis of the Strategies of Transition to Adulthood in Italy

The article presents some of the first results obtained during a qualitative longitudinal research on being young in Italy, begun in 2019, promoted by the Department of Sociology and Social Research of the University of Milano-Bicocca. The paper aims at contributing to the study of the life trajectories of young men and women as they deal with a transition to adulthood that appears suspended, especially in relation to the economic, social and cultural fractures determined by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. By focusing on life experiences and life courses in Italy, the paper analyses how transition is strongly affected by the geographical, cultural, social and economic contexts in which the biographies of the young people interviewed are immersed. Furthermore, the article explores the subjective meanings they ascribe to those contexts. Firstly, the results show that a common feature of the biographies of the young people we encountered is a perception of uncertainty. More specifically, the paper underlines the ambivalent role that geographical context plays in the narrations and biographies of young people. Especially, when it is characterized by scarcity of resources, and therefore, by the impossibility of recognition and realization of personal aspirations. Lastly, the research shows that the sanitary emergency, with the subsequent containment policies, represents a sudden event that amplifies pre-existing conditions, characteristics, and differences, but at the same time, it triggers novel transformations, at a collective as well as individual level.