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Young people and post-pandemic futures: scenario planning as a radical politics of hope

Peter Kelly (School of Education, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)
Seth Brown (School of Education, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
James Goring (School of Education, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)

Qualitative Research Journal

ISSN: 1443-9883

Article publication date: 20 February 2023

Issue publication date: 12 June 2023




In this paper we report on the outcomes of a scenario planning project in Melbourne's (Australia) inner northern suburbs, which was undertaken in the context of an extended lockdown during Melbourne's second wave of COVID-19 infections. In this project, the researchers sought to identify the ways in which young people and youth service providers understood the challenges that the pandemic was creating for young people and the provision of youth services, and through the 5 years up to 2025.


The project was shaped by a scenario planning methodology that produced three research informed scenarios of possible futures for young people in Melbourne's inner north in 2025. The project conducted a series of structured video interviews with young people, and semi-structured interviews with stakeholders that asked participants to reflect on the context of the pandemic, and what the future might hold in relation to young people's pathways and health and well-being, and the futures of their communities and the planet.


The scenario planning methodology revealed many concerns, uncertainties and anxieties that were shared, but which also varied between young people and stakeholders – both about the immediacy of the pandemic, and its aftermaths and intersection with future crises.


The scenario planning approach offers sociologies of education and youth a means to do the future-oriented, “hopeful” work that multiple crises for young people demand. Scenario planning is an “affirmative” exercise in hope by which sociologies can “stay with the trouble” that we find ourselves in, and that the pandemic has amplified.



The authors acknowledge the financial, in kind and collaborative support of the IN-LLEN and its key stakeholders. The authors especially want to acknowledge the young people who so generously and candidly and provocatively engaged with their video prompts to share with them and their partners their hopes, anxieties, uncertainties and aspirations from the midst of “lockdown”.


Kelly, P., Brown, S. and Goring, J. (2023), "Young people and post-pandemic futures: scenario planning as a radical politics of hope", Qualitative Research Journal, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 357-371.



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