Colin Leonard: “Young People’s Pandemic Rights and Responsibilities”

In Students by General Account

  • Queen’s University Belfast
  • Sociology, Social Policy & Social Work
  • Cleonard09@qub.ac.uk
  • Description

    I graduated as a mature student from Queens University Belfast with a BA in Sociology in July 2020. I completed my Masters in Research Methods in September 2021 and my dissertation explored young people’s attitudes to and experiences of Brexit including their views on a future referendum on a united Ireland.  My PhD research will focus on teenagers’ attitudes to their pandemic rights and responsibilities.   The research proposes to focus on the extent to which young people consider the pandemic in moral terms and the extent to which they view compliance with issues such as wearing masks and getting vaccinated in terms of rights and responsibilities.  The research uses the work of Goffman as a theoretical framework to explore how the pandemic impacts on how early adolescence is performed, embodied and enacted in particular spaces and places. The research also aims to shed light on how young people acquire knowledge about these issues and the extent to which they trust government sources of information compared to information gained about the pandemic through social media.

    The research will be structured around four core research questions/themes:

    • Young people’s attitudes to the right to wear/not wear a mask – their adherence to this rule outside school in public places such as buses and trains, shops and restaurants.
    • Young people’s attitudes to the right to get/not get vaccinated – their experiences of the vaccination programme and the extent to which the feel they contributed to the decision around getting the vaccine
    • Young People’s attitudes and experience of government sources of information about the pandemic including the extent to which they trust these sources of information (this feeds into existing research which suggests that young people are more distrustful of political institutions).
    • Young people’s attitudes to and experiences of alternative sources of information about the pandemic with a core focus on social media and the extent to which they access and trust these sources

    I intend to conduct the research in secondary schools using focus group interviews to explore these attitudes with teenagers.